Some people believe that your astrological sign determines facets of your personality. If you were to ask The Mistah to describe my personality, I’m sure he’d find a polite answer that didn’t involve the phrase ‘crankypants’. But I’ll tell you the truth, I AM a crankypants. I must have been born under the sign of Cactus instead of Cancer because there are days, when for no good reason, I’m just all prickly. Simple questions come out of my mouth with the tone of an interrogation. Every question that gets put to me receives a reply drowning in sarcasm and impatience. The Mistah has gotten good at reading the stars and knows that when Cactus is rising in the Seventh House, it’s time to hug it out.
His solution to get the stars to right themselves is to hug the crankypants out of me. Some days, I’m am stubbornly grounded in my orbit and can’t be realigned. Other days, there is a total hug it out eclipse which completely blocks out the rising Cactus. I’m not sure what it would look like on an astrological chart, but in the kitchen, it looks something like Crispy Skinned Orange Chicken. I swear it’s the truth.
I was in full crankypants mode one day when The Mistah asked if he could help with dinner. I said sure and then I did something I’ve never done before. I pulled out all the ingredients, put them with the recipes, and walked out of the kitchen. I just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to deal with browning chicken, making sauce, basting the chicken as it roasted in the oven, or glazing carrots. Since I think food tastes like the mood of the chef, if I’m in a prickly mood it’s going to show up on the plate. The flavors may taste rushed or forced. On a really bad day they may be bitter or sharp. Seems to me the better idea is to just walk away and not infect the food with my mood.
So The Mistah was completely in charge of making dinner. Those words have never before been written. Usually on nights when he “cooks” I’m in there as sous chef. I prep and chop and mis en place. I stir and generally keep an eye on things. This time, I sat on the sofa keeping an eye on a magazine. I resisted the urge to get up and “suggest” that he do this, that, or the other thing. He was going to have to learn to navigate the kitchen universe by himself.
I only went into the kitchen at his request, and even then we had to hug it out a few times. No, we do not handle raw chicken and then pick up spice jars or dig into the salt cellar without washing our hands. No, I do not have patience for someone asking me “what do I do now” when the recipe is sitting right there. Just read the damn thing first and see if that doesn’t answer your question. No, we do not stand by watching as the liquid we’re cooking down to a glaze is about two seconds away from scorching. That is not how I roll. And no, we do not live by the timer. If the recipe says to do ‘x’ for five minutes, check for doneness, and then do ‘y’, we do not move straight to ‘y’ just because the recipe doesn’t explicitly say to keep cooking if it’s not done after ‘x’. Even typing that, I feel like I need to hug it out. And that makes me feel bad.
Because the meal that he served me tasted like love. Tender and sweet, one bite of the chicken and glazed carrots and crankypants vanished. You know what, he even gave me his crispy, sticky glazed, chicken skin. I mean really, how can you be prickly when someone loves you that much? The Mistah was most definitely born under a good sign. And I must have been born under a lucky one.
Crispy Skinned Orange Chicken
Melissa d’Arabian, Food Network
- 3 skin on, bone in chicken breast halves
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 4 tablespoons honey
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skilled over medium high heat and sear the chicken, skin side only, until brown and beginning to crisp, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the orange juice concentrate, honey, and salt and pepper to taste in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
Once the chicken is browned, turn each piece over and brush all over with glaze. Turn the chicken skin side up again and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 to 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Halfway through, brush on more glaze.
Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Melissa d’Arabian, Food Network
BAH Note: The recipe says to make this in a small skillet. I prefer using a 12 inch frying pan with lid. We used an entire one pound bag of baby carrots. Since we did not cut them into coins, they needed a longer simmer to become tender. We also added a teaspoon or so of the orange juice concentrate to the liquid as it was cooking down and substituted dried cilantro for the fresh parsley at the end.
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- 3/4 pound carrots, cut on the bias into coins
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
In a small skillet, combine the broth, water, butter, brown sugar, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the carrots, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes.
Uncover the pan and let the liquid cook down until it reduces to a glaze, about 2 to 3 minutes. Toss the carrots to generously coat them with the glaze. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.