“Ancient” Chinese Chicken with Green Beans and Caramelized Shallots

I use the term ‘Ancient’ loosely here.  It’s not an authentic ancient Chinese recipe but the name given the recipe in an old cookbook of mine from 1986 called “Noteworthy – A Collection of Recipes from the Ravinia Festival”  It’s still one of my all-time favorite cookbooks and I love pulling it off the bookshelf every now and then to see if there’s anything I may have missed. My original copy was so worn that the pages were falling out but I was lucky enough to find an almost new copy at the local used book store. 

FYI, the Ravinia Festival in northern Illinois is the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States, with a series of outdoor concerts and performances held every summer from June to September. It has been the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1936 and the cookbook was the project of the Women’s Board of the Ravinia Festival Organization. 

I was in the mood for some Asian BBQ chicken, and found this recipe in my cookbook.  I thought I might have a hard time finding the currant jelly and plum jam but luckily, no problem thanks to the popular store brand. The original recipe calls for chicken legs and breasts but I substituted bone-in chicken thighs because they stay so tender and juicy, even after a long cooking time.

Since my husband and I are trying to watch our carb intake during the week, I served the chicken with some sauteed mushrooms (to which I added a little of the chicken spice mixture) and my favorite recipe for green beans with caramelized shallots which I’ll also share.  It’s a fool proof method for getting tender but not over-cooked green beans, just like you’d get in a restaurant.

Did you know that Chinese New Year is starting on February 19!  It will be the Year of the Goat!  Some interesting facts on the Chinese Zodiac

I also want to thank my friend, Maris, at In Good Taste Magazine and Wüsthof for the opportunity to win two beautiful Wüsthof knives in December.  Thank you, both very much!  I am thrilled with them and the boning knife is perfect for cutting up chicken parts.

“Ancient” Chinese Chicken with Green Beans and Caramelized Shallots

Adapted from “Noteworthy – A Collection of Recipes from the Ravinia Festival”

Printable Recipe

Serves 6

12 bone-in chicken thighs trimmed of excess skin (you may use other chicken parts if you prefer)
1/2 cup Canola oil
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
2 teaspoons coarse salt (I like to use coarse sea salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Note: I ground the dry seasonings together in my spice grinder (which is a coffee grinder I use just for spices).  Save any leftover spice mixture to use on sauteed mushrooms or green beans.

For the Sauce:

1-1/3 cups ketchup
2/3 cup red currant jelly
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco (or Sriracha)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (or 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger)
1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup plum jam (strained if it has large bits of plum)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Arrange the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub the chicken pieces with oil and then sprinkle the lemon juice, Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper over chicken and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.

While the chicken is baking, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan and whisk together. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

When the chicken is done, remove from oven, uncover, and drain the juices.

Increase the oven temperature to 400. Baste the chicken generously with the sauce and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve with remaining sauce.

You may also grill the chicken on a medium heat grill, basting frequently with the sauce until browned for about 10 minutes, turning frequently.

Serve with sauteed mushrooms, and,

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
Adapted from Epicurious

Serves 4

1 pounds slender green beans, stem ends trimmed
3-4 shallots
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves are even better)

Have a large bowl of ice water ready.

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil.  Add the green beans and return to a boil.  Cook until just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and transfer immediately to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in several layers of paper towels. Seal in plastic bag and chill.)

Trim ends and peel shallots. Cut lengthwise in half, then slice thickly. Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; sauté until shallots are browned and tender, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Shallots can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil and let stand at room temperature).

Add pre-cooked and drained green beans to the shallots in skillet and stir over medium-high heat until heated through, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.