One of the latest taste trends in the culinary world is the blending of salty and sweet flavors. Hence salted caramels have become very popular, whether as toffee, ice cream or even as a drink.
While this may be new in some countries, here in the Philippines, we’ve had this flavor combination for years, though perhaps we may not think of it in terms of being trendy. There’s champoy, for instance, which is mouth-puckeringly salty at first bite then vaguely sweet the next. Then there’s its cousin, the dikiam, which reverses the assault on the taste buds by being sweet at first before gradually morphing into saltiness.
And what about the sauce fondly called paalat—a combination of soy sauce and sugar, spooned liberally over fresh lumpia (spring rolls)?
Here’s an enticing recipe that makes the most of this salty-sweet combination: turbo-roasted chicken brushed generously with coarse salt and honey. The salt keeps the chicken from being cloyingly sweet, while the honey balances the slightly salty flavor. The lemon, too, does its part by adding just a hint of citrusy taste.
Making the chicken more appetizing is the mildly sweet gravy made from patiently stirred chicken drippings and a light broth extracted from simmered giblets.
Serve this with rice, green peas and/or steamed baby carrots and you’ll have a delightful meal.
Salt and Honey Chicken
1 whole chicken, about 1.2 k
2 ½ tbsp coarse salt
¾ c honey
For the gravy:
1 chicken gizzard
1 chicken liver
1 chicken neck
2 ½ c water
Pan drippings (from the cooked chicken)
¼ c flour
Salt for seasoning (optional)
Wash and rinse the chicken well, then pat with paper towels. Combine the salt and honey in a bowl then divide into two. Brush the chicken all over with half of the salt and honey mixture (reserve the other half of the mixture). Let the chicken stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes (refrigerate if longer).
When ready to cook, squeeze lemon over the chicken, then stuff the lemon inside the chicken. Truss the chicken by tying the chicken legs and the tail end together. Brush the chicken all over with the reserved honey mixture. Arrange the chicken in a roasting pan. Roast chicken in a turbo broiler at 375°F (190°C) for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) and roast the chicken for another 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.
Transfer chicken to a serving platter and reserve the chicken drippings (to be used for making the gravy—see below). Cover the chicken to keep it warm while you make the gravy.
To make the gravy:
Wash the chicken gizzard, liver then neck and put them in a large saucepan together with the 2 ½ cups water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes (you can do this while the chicken is cooking in the turbo broiler). Strain the resulting broth into a bowl and set aside.
When the chicken is cooked, strain the drippings into a measuring cup. Put the flour into a saucepan and pour in ¼ cup of the drippings. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until flour and drippings form a smooth mass. Slowly pour in the remaining drippings while stirring constantly over medium-low heat so mixture becomes smooth. Add the prepared broth in small measures, stirring well after each addition. Increase heat to medium and simmer until liquid thickens. Season with salt, if desired. Serve hot with the roasted chicken.
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Buy whole chicken that comes with the liver, gizzard and neck so you’ll have ingredients for the gravy. Otherwise, just buy the liver, gizzard and neck separately.
Preferably buy chicken that’s fresh, not frozen. If frozen chicken is your only choice, check that it doesn’t have freezer burn and thaw the chicken in the refrigerator for three to four days before using.
Use kitchen twine for trussing the chicken. Trussing the chicken preserves the shape of the chicken and helps to cook it evenly.
You can also roast the chicken in a conventional oven. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and roast the chicken for 40-50 minutes, then lower heat to 350°F (180°C) and roast the chicken for another 20-25 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and tender. If the chicken browns too quickly, cover it with a tent of aluminum foil.