This is more or less the culmination of experimenting with honey-glazed chicken for years. I started out just mixing honey and mustard which I painted onto the chicken. This works out quite well, but you want to keep the skin on: glazing just doesn’t work so well on skinless chicken.
From a suggestion by the gang at America’s Test Kitchen, I use light corn syrup which helps make a great glaze without also making it nasty sweet or sugary.
Last, you can subsitute a number of fruit juices and combination ingredients for the orange and other components used here like apple or pineapple and maple flavoring or brown sugar, apricot, etc.
|6||chicken breasts (or 12 thighs if preferred), skin on|
|—||all-purpose flour for light dredging|
|1 tbsp||vegetable or (low-grade) olive oil|
|1½ cups||orange juice, pulpless if possible|
|½ cup||light corn syrup|
|1 finger||Marsala wine|
1. Prepare the breasts by washing them, removing bones, trimming, etc. It is not necessary to brine them, but it might not hurt. However, I have not so far. Glucose is hydrophilic and the glaze will therefore attract and retain some moisture. Dredge the filets and shake off all possible flour.
2. Put oil in a non-stick skillet on medium to medium-high and, once it begins to shimmer, place the filets skin-side down into it. Leave room around the filets or you’ll be boiling them. After they’re going, if they do not continue to make a sizzling sound, hike the temperature. If, after about 5 minutes, they are not a light golden color, hike the temperature; or, if they are darker than light brown, drop the temperature. Brown for about 10 or 12 minutes (until a good, golden brown). Turn, and lightly brown the other side. Remove from skillet and set aside on a plate to rest.
Preheat oven to 375°. Arrange the racks so that the skillet can be moved in and out without trouble.
3. Pour off most of the grease from the skillet and clarify the shallot and garlic. Deglaze the pan a bit with some Marsala. Pour the premixed glaze ingredients into the skillet and reduce to the consistency of (real) maple syrup—a light syrup. On high heat, this could take about 10 minutes. Roll the filets in the syrup, then place them all skin-side down in the skillet. Pour the dripped juices from the plate on which the chicken rested. Place the skillet in the hot oven and a temperature probe into one of the filets. Set the thermometer alarm to go off at 160°—probably less than 30 minutes.
Remember to use a hot pad to remove the skillet in this next step and keep it there. It’s so easy (I know from personal experience) to grab the skillet mindlessly which you are in the habit of using only on the stove top.
4. Remove the skillet from the oven and then the filets from the skillet. Set aside on the serving platter. Finish reducing the glaze to honey consistency on high heat, but take care not to allow it to blacken. Once again, hold the filets with tongs and roll them in the glaze, then pour the remaining glaze over them in the platter.