This is my riff on sweet-and-sour chicken. I've cleared away the goop to get a dish that tastes great, with a fun mingling of flavors.
Gone is the canned pineapple, replaced with grilled pineapple slices. Out went the breading and frying; skinless chicken thighs are grilled instead. The fruity tang comes from a homemade glaze that is applied to both the fruit and the chicken. I've added some blanched and quickly charred scallions.
The dish requires a few steps, but I bet you'll like the results.
If you happen to have strawberry-rhubarb jam, you can substitute 3/4 cup of it for the strawberries, rhubarb, water and sugar. Just combine the jam with the onion and mustard seeds and cook for about 25 minutes, until the onions are soft.
I'd be up for trying to make over a favorite a dish of yours. Send an e-mail with NOURISH MAKEOVER in the subject field to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For the glaze
- 1 stalk rhubarb (about 2 ounces), cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice to yield 1/2 cup
- 4 to 6 large strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice to yield 1/2 cup
- 1 small onion, cut into small dice (1/2 cup)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons mustard seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- For the chicken and pineapple
- 8 scallions (root ends trimmed off), remaining white and light-green parts about 6 inches long
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 pound peeled and cored pineapple, cut into four 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices
- 8 (32 ounces) bone-in skinless chicken thighs
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the glaze: Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, onion, sugar, mustard seeds, salt and water in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat. Stir to mix well until bubbles form at the edges. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure the mixture does not boil over, until it has reduced by half; the vegetables should be quite soft.
Carefully transfer to a blender. Remove the center portion of the lid to let steam escape, then place a dish towel over the lid. Puree until smooth, then add the vinegar and pulse to combine. Divide the glaze evenly between 2 small bowls.
For the chicken and pineapple: Prepare the grill for direct and indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium (350 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 6 or 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
While the grill is preheating, bring a shallow pan of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the scallions and cook for 2 minutes (for thin scallions) to 4 minutes (thick), then use tongs to transfer them to a plate. They should be tender and bright green.
Lightly salt the pineapple slices and chicken thighs; season the chicken with pepper to taste. Place them on the grill over direct heat; close the lid. When the pineapple has good grill marks on one side (5 to 6 minutes), turn the pieces and move to the indirect-heat side of the grill.
Use one bowl of the glaze to brush the pineapple. Grill (with the lid closed) for 5 to 6 minutes. At the same time, turn over the chicken thighs once they have grill marks (10 to 13 minutes), allowing the second side to get color and grill marks (10 to 12 minutes). Then transfer to the indirect-heat side of the grill and brush with the glaze in the second bowl.
As the pineapple and chicken thighs are done, transfer them to a platter; use the space on the grill rack to grill the par-cooked scallions close to the indirect-heat side of the grill just for a few minutes, until they are slightly charred.
To serve, cut each slice of grilled pineapple vertically in half, placing a half-slice on each plate. Top with 2 grilled chicken thighs, 2 grilled scallions and a second pineapple half.
From columnist Stephanie S. Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie S. Sedgwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.