Sometimes there isn’t enough time in the morning to prepare a marinade for an easy chicken dinner to make later. If you are like me, you just plain forget to take the chicken out the freezer the night before (and you cannot marinate frozen chicken).
One way around this dilemma when you need a quick weeknight meal is to preheat your oven to 350F, remove the chicken from the packaging, place it on a sheet pan, then stick it in the oven, close the door and immediately turn off the heat. Let the chicken hang out in there for 30 minutes, and it will thaw without cooking.
It takes five minutes to mix up the ingredients for the sauce. Braising the chicken thighs in the sauce before baking them will render them nice and juicy.
Let the meat rest for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven. This gives the meat’s juices time to reabsorb back into the meat before it gets served. While the chicken thighs rest, you can finish up the spicy pineapple sauce that goes over the chicken and rice. (Cook the rice while the chicken bakes.)
How’s that for an easy weeknight meal that tastes like it has been roasting all day?
Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Chicken
- oven-proof skillet
- 1 envelope instant onion soup mix
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ cup apple cider
- ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp red curry paste
- ¾ tsp salt divided
- ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 4 large chicken thighs bone-in with skin
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 slices fresh pineapple cut to ¼ inch thick
- ½ serrano chili pepper sliced
- 1 cup cooked brown rice for serving
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Whisk together the soup mix, honey, apple cider, thyme, curry paste and ½ teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high. Sear the chicken thighs in the hot oil, skin side down, until the skin becomes browned and no longer sticks to the skillet, about 5 minutes.
- Flip the chicken pieces so they are skin side up and immediately pour the reserved onion soup mixture over the chicken. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the chicken thighs are cooked through. While the chicken bakes, baste with the pan juices two or three times. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- While the chicken is resting, heat the skillet over a burner set to medium. Add the sliced serrano chili to the skillet. When the pan juices begin to simmer, place one pineapple slice into the juices and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and simmer another 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with the other pineapple slice.
- To serve, divide the rice equally onto two plates. Place a pineapple slice over the rice on one plate and top with two chicken thighs. Using a ladle or large spoon, douse one plate with half of the pan juices, making sure you get some of the chilis. Repeat with the second plate and the remaining chicken, pineapple slice, and juices. Garnish with a few fresh grinds of black pepper.