Archive for chicken

What I’m Eating: Honey-Lime Chicken

This recipe is incredibly simple and tasty. It’s really this recipe but I added less chili powder and more lime juice, so the lime is a little more of a dominant flavor. If chili is your thing, you could always change the proportions back.


1 tablespoons chili powder (not pure chile powder)
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 whole chicken legs (2 lb), thighs and drumsticks separated


Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Line bottom of a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan with foil and set an oiled large metal rack in pan.

Stir together chili powder, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, then add chicken and turn to coat completely.

Transfer chicken to rack, arranging in 1 layer, then bake, turning over once, until cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes.


I made this with just chicken thighs, since I bought a giant package of frozen chicken thighs on sale a few weeks ago. It works just as well. You could make it with chicken breasts, too, or boneless skinless chicken thighs if that’s your thing, just reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes. I might also marinate the chicken breasts for an hour or so to keep them moist.

I really recommend keeping the skin on the chicken, though, because it turns out nice and crispy.

I also highly recommend actually following the direction to line the pan with foil. I didn’t, and I also didn’t put the chicken on a wire rack in the pan. It worked out fine for me because I used a glass baking dish, but if it hadn’t been glass I would never have gotten the charred sugar residue off. I don’t know if you have ever seen seriously burned sugar, but it is some nasty stuff. Delicious as a light crisp coating on the chicken, disgusting when it is coating your pan.

Speaking of burnt sugar, I read an article once about historical ideas about nutrition and health, about how the way European people ate changed in the middle of the 17th century–well, the way wealthy people ate, which spread with the rise of the middle class etc etc. Before about 1650, medieval people’s ideas about health were taken from Aristotle’s four humors, corresponding to his four elements. Food also had various properties tied to the Aristotelian elements, and imbalances of the humors could be corrected or prevented by eating the right kinds of foods. People ate a lot of grain-based dishes that tried to combine all the ideal foods for a particular condition or lifestyle into one — for example, blancmange, which was a stewish sort of dish made of rice and shredded chicken, and flavored with both savory spices and sugar, was supposed to be very good for a particular kind of imbalance.

But then a few chemists (or whatever they were calling themselves in 1650, I think some were physicians too) got the idea to burn foods to try and find out what they were made of. They found that most food separated into three parts: a light, vaporous liquid, a thick oily substance, and a solid part, the three “essences” of food. Physicians developed a new theory about the roles of these three essences in health.

They also found that when you burn sugar, it turns into a gross sticky black mess. They believed that this black mess was a major source of disease, and many recommended that no one should ever eat sugar. So as the ways people prepared food shifted in response to the new ideas about healthy eating, sugar was eliminated from main dishes, and concentrated into optional post-meal dishes: dessert.

Also, all this was part of the Enlightenment and started in France, which is when France began its reputation as a major culinary center of Europe. Shops began to sell the new health food to middle class people who could not afford to have their own private chefs, and that’s the origin of “restaurants,” from the French for “restorative.”

And that is sort of a long digression but I find this kind of thing fascinating. People have had highly developed ideas about the connection between food and health for a long time, and a lot of it seems very silly now. I expect that 400 years from now people will look back at things like the Atkins diet, or the idea that in order to be healthy people should eat mainly salad, or avoid all salt or one particular sort of fat with this or that chemical structure, and make fun of how superstitious and dumb we were. Plus, you know, there are all sorts of historical trends tied up in that shift, and it’s really interesting to me to see how much of what we are familiar with today is related.

Also, because I believe in citing my sources, I totally found the article online (pdf link). There’s an excerpt from another article about the same topic here, (another pdf) and finally, a book about it. The nerds in the audience may appreciate my effort on their behalf.


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