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Mouth-watering roasted chicken with fresh pineapple

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RONNIE FEIN

Pictured: This roasted chicken with fresh pineapple is a winner all over.

PHOTOGRAPH: RONNIE FEIN

Over the years I have learned that chicken dinner never has to be boring.

Chicken meat is so mild – certainly not as distinctive as, say, lamb or duck – that you can pair it with all sorts of seasonings, condiments, fruits and vegetables, and it will be flavourful and delicious. Spice it up with curry powder or ras el hanout (a spice mix from North Africa) or lemon juice and dried oregano.

Fresh herbs, tomato sauce, Ponzu (a citrus-based sauce used in Japanese cuisine), jarred duck sauce, teriyaki, black truffle oil – are all fine. Baste chicken with wine, orange juice or stock couldn’t be better. 

One of the ways I try to make the dinner interesting is to cook the meat with fruit. I’ve used all kinds – from apples to grapes to prunes – and found that pineapple and other acidic fruits are particularly well-suited because they add a refreshing tang, which is especially welcome in the heat of summer.

In addition, the fruit caramelises gorgeously in the pot, creating a dish that’s mild plus piquant and sugary. You can stop there, but I add just a hint of heat for the back of the tongue (I used Sriracha, but you can also sprinkle the chicken with cayenne powder), which makes the entire dish come together in beautiful and delicious harmony.

Roasted chicken with fresh pineapple

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

3 cups cut up fresh pineapple
1 cut up broiler-fryer chicken (or 4-6 whole legs or 2 large whole breasts)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Sriracha*
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pineapple juice

 

* Sriracha is a hot sauce made from a paste of inter alia chilli peppers and is available in South Africa.

Directions

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the pineapple in a roasting pan. Place the chicken pieces in the pan, partly on top of the fruit.

Mix the olive oil, ginger, garlic, Sriracha and cinnamon in a small bowl and brush the chicken with the mixture. Season to taste with salt. Roast for 10 minutes. 

Lower the oven heat to 350 degrees. Pour the pineapple juice over the chicken and fruit. Roast for about 25-30 minutes or until cooked through (a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat will register 160 degrees), basting once or twice with the pan juices. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. (The Nosher via JTA)

Ronnie Fein has written for the food sections of daily newspapers including Newsday, The Connecticut Post, Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time.

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