Make my honey a little less runny
December 16, 2012 3:06 PM   Subscribe

How can I make honey stick to roasted chicken?

Today I roasted boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces, potatoes, and broccoli in butter, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, and honey. It was good, but I discovered that the honey had liquified and slid off into the vegetables. This made the broccoli really good (sweet and salty together), but made the chicken a bit bland.

For next time, how can I get the honey to stay on/in the chicken? Is there something I could mix with the honey as a thickening agent that won't affect the taste of the final dish?
posted by JDHarper to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Honey powder.
posted by Juliet Banana at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is a concept from meat smoking, but it might be just what you need. Basically, you want the outer protein layer of your meat to be prepared for taking up flavors by making it sticky. You can do that by setting your chicken, uncovered, on a cookie cooling rack in your fridge for several hours (at least a couple, overnight is even better). If you brine your chicken, and you should, do this after the meat has been brined. The skin of the chicken will become dry and super sticky, ready for anything you might want to adhere to it (some of the honey will inevitably melt off, of course). The actual term for this is pellicle if you would like to look it up.

When roasting the chicken, the skin might become darker more quickly than you're used to since it has been dehydrated, just cover it very loosely with aluminum foil.
posted by halogen at 3:23 PM on December 16, 2012

Hmm, was the skin pretty dry when you applied the honey? I get the best results when I make sure the skin is as dry as I can get it, then I brush on the honey. You could also try a honey brine to get the honey flavor in the chicken.
posted by melissam at 3:23 PM on December 16, 2012

I use mayo to stick things to the outside of a chicken whether it's herbs/spices or some other flavoring. The eggs in the mayo act like a glue instead of melting and sliding off like butter, oil, or other liquids. It doesn't leave much of its own flavor behind. Just mix whatever you want into a few tbsps of mayo and smear onto the skin.
posted by quince at 3:24 PM on December 16, 2012

That honey powder looks interesting; I will have have to try some. Is it available in supermarkets typically, or would I need to order it online?

Now, I was using boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Buying skin-on chicken breasts might be a good idea too, since I'm sure the rougher surface area is more likely to retain the honey. Or I could work the honey in between the skin and the meat to keep it trapped there....
posted by JDHarper at 3:42 PM on December 16, 2012

Seconding trying to dry your chicken as best you can. The America's Test Kitchen method is to pat it dry all over with a paper towel. I've found that thinner, cheaper paper towels can tear and stick to a damp piece of meat, so I recommend thicker, Bounty-type towels.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:16 PM on December 16, 2012

You could try scoring the chicken. YMMV but I find skin-on thighs much more flavoursome. You can de-bone them or not as you please, but they need more grilling time bone-in.
posted by glasseyes at 4:26 PM on December 16, 2012

That honey powder looks interesting; I will have have to try some. Is it available in supermarkets typically, or would I need to order it online?

This is something that would typically only be available through speciality honey-product purveyors or spice/dried herb stores. Here in Chicago, I would go to Spice House. If you live in a smaller town without a specialty spice store you would have to order it online.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:18 PM on December 16, 2012

Ok, so here is the problem. Honey, being a sugar, loves to get runny when it's warm, and even worse when it's moist. Those chicken breasts and broccoli will give off a ton of liquid when you're roasting them, ensuring your honey will slide right off.

If you want your honey to stay on the chicken, you're best off cooking the meat separately. Roast it for a bit, then apply the honey for the last 5-10 minutes. It will adhere even better if you have something chunky mixed in, like Sriracha sauce. Remember, you're trying to create a glaze here, typically you only put that on for the last few minutes of cooking.

There is a Vietnamese technique called Ga Kho that is similar to what you're trying to do, it's chicken cooked with spices and caramelized sugar. This may work better than honey since caramel can absorb more heat and water than honey before turning runny. The most simple version is to mix 1 cup of sugar with 1 tsp of water and cook over low heat until caramel-colored. You can then use it as you would honey. Here's a bit more complicated version I came across, which looks like it could be translated to your dish with delicious results.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:09 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there any reason why you can't just create a honey-based sauce or jus to serve with the chicken? Bonus points because it adds to presentation and diners can use however much sauce they want.
posted by rq at 9:01 AM on December 17, 2012

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