Clementine & Five-Spice Chicken from EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2012

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I remember a day in 1973 I was grounded from watching the tv. Pretty silly thing for a kid to remember, eh? No so much so when I add on a little tidbit. On that same day I was grounded, my parents brought our first color television home. While they spent the evening oohing and aahing over the wonder of this ‘new’ technology, I was up in my room. It was agony. It was the perfect punishment and boy, did I learn.

Do you remember television in those days? You had to get up and turn a dial. You had to adjust the bunny years on top of the set. You had to listen to commercials*. You had six channels to choose from; for us they were 2 (CBS), 5 (NBC), 7 (ABC), 9 (local?), 11 (PBS) and 32 (vhf).

*Most of the world may have had to listen to commercials, but we didn’t.  My father hated and still hates the things. Way before the remote was born, he stopped them from entering our house. He ran a cord from the back of the television, snaking through the heat vent, to the couch. There was a switch at the couch-end of the cord. Flip the switch, the sound turned off. Flip it again, it was on. The person who sat at that spot on the couch had the responsibility of making sure we never, ever heard commercials.

Choices were easier to make back then. You could watch Hogan’s Heroes, I Dream of Jeannie, Hollywood Squares, Cubs’ Baseball or Masterpiece Theater? Now, not so much. Thousands of channels. Various ‘packages’ from which to choose. Multiple companies vying for our television viewing rights.

We’ve become a country of endless choices, making it a trial to decide what to do. And it’s spread to food. Bread. Not the simple choice of white or wheat anymore.  Milk. From percentages to lactose-free to milk that doesn’t even come from a cow.

Oranges. Blood oranges. Mandarins. Tangerines. Tangelos. Clementines. Minneolas. Satsumas.

Anyone else get a little confused by the array? I don’t remember having this many to choose from. And I don’t know why recipe creators choose one over the other.

Unless they tell me; which is exactly what EatingWell did.

The Process
When you make a recipe that uses Chinese Five-Spice powder, what variety of orange would you typically put with it just from a name’s standpoint? Please tell me you said the Mandarin. When I say Clementine, I think of the South, mint juleps and Scarlett O’Hara. Not an Asian-spice infused chicken dish.

However, clementines are just about seedless, which is nice when you’re slicing oranges into rounds. I’m glad to know that the magazine went with what works instead of what sounds cooler. Or should that be more cool.

Doing the prep work before anything else is begun will make things much easier. So, zest a clementine, then juice 6-7. Also slice scallion greens and pull the smallest leaves from the bunch of cilantro you have that you can find. Cut two clementines into thin rounds. Ready to go?

Cook the chicken in a big skillet until it’s nice and brown. Add the juice, which has five spice powder and the zest added to it. Bring it to a simmer, cover the skillet and let the chicken cook until done. While that’s happening, you can start your side dishes.

When finished, remove the chicken to a plate and add the clementine rounds, scallions, cilantro and sesame oil to the remaining juices. Bump up the heat a little and let it all reduce down. Serve it all by spooning sauce and orange slices over the chicken.

The Verdict
Three empty plates pretty much says it all. We inhaled this meal. It was so delicious. I adore five-spice powder anyhow, but had not paired it with citrus before. It was quite delicious. I didn’t have any Szechuan peppercorns, unfortunately, but think the heat that those would have added would have been fantastic for us adults, but too much for Dudette. The meal is very tasty and beautiful. Definitely something I’d serve to guests.

What I’d Do Different Next Time
I understand fully why the skin was removed, but I’ve never been a fan of chicken meat that’s been seared without the protection of the skin. I find that it makes it hard and stringy. So, if it weren’t for the health of it all, I’d leave the skin on.  Just for a little extra boost, I’d sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top of everything just before serving.

Clementine & Five-Spice Chickenprint this recipe
from EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2012

8-10 clementines, divided
Generous 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (see Tips)
1/4 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed (see Tips, optional)
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
4 large bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skin removed, trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup small fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion greens
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Finely grate 1 teaspoon zest (see Tips) and squeeze 1 cup juice from 6 to 8 clementines. Combine the zest, juice, five-spice powder and peppercorns (if using) in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt. Cook the chicken, turning frequently, until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Pour in the juice mixture; bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, 16 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel 2 of the remaining clementines and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce, stirring often, until thickened and reduced to 1/2 to 2/3 cup, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the clementine slices, cilantro, scallion greens and sesame oil. Serve the chicken with the sauce.

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