Chef's Corner: Biblical Chicken

by Lisa Glickman

As the High Holidays get closer, I know summer soon will be over and it’s time to reflect and celebrate the Jewish New Year. Here in Oregon, there’s usually plenty of warmth still in the air as we make our way to Rosh Hashanah services. But by Yom Kippur, just the following week, there is already a noticeable chill that reminds me fall is ready to begin.

The term Rosh Hashanah appears in the Bible in Ezekiel 40:1 where it means generally the time of the “beginning of the year.” Traditional customs include sounding the shofar and eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey in hopes for a sweet new year. It is also a time to take stock of the previous year. I like to appreciate all of the good fortune I have had, as well as make a mental list of personal transgressions and the things I could be doing better in my life.

Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (“casting off”). We gather around flowing water, such as a river or stream and toss breadcrumbs into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. (This is a good time to take along that mental list I was talking about earlier…)

I converted to Judaism before I was married almost 20 years ago. Back then, the traditions and customs of being Jewish were very new to me. A few years after my conversion, my sister-in-law Jennifer and I decided to study Hebrew and become b’nai mitzvah, though of course both of us were well past our 13th birthdays. Standing on the bimah that evening and chanting our Torah portions was a very proud moment for both of us.

The High Holidays are when we come together to rededicate ourselves to G-d so we might have the greatest chance of ensuring that – in spite of what the previous year might have held – we will have a very happy new year.

One of my favorite cookbooks contains recipes from a mother and daughter who share their recipes for traditional Jewish food along with some more contemporary recipes. I have used many of the recipes in Mother and Daughter Jewish Cooking: Two Generations of Jewish Women Share Traditional and Contemporary Recipes by Evelyn and Judi Rose. One of my favorites is this recipe for “Biblical Chicken.” It encapsulates the spirit of Rosh Hashanah with honey, apple and raisins. I like to use boneless, skinless thighs because I think they have more flavor, but you can use thinly sliced boneless breasts if you like; just remember they will cook much more quickly. The chicken is lightly fried to give it color and then finished in the tangy sauce made with apple juice, white wine, lemon zest, honey and a touch of cinnamon. I tighten up the sauce with a bit of cornstarch and garnish with toasted slivered almonds for added crunch. It’s easy and delicious. You can make this dish well ahead of time and simply reheat and add the garnish when needed. It tastes even better the next day.

“L’Shanah Tovah” is the greeting heard during the High Holidays which literally means, “To a Sweet Year.” I wish L’Shanah Tovah for us all.

Lisa Glickman is a private chef and teacher who lives in Bend. She has made TV appearances on COTV in Central Oregon and recently appeared on the Cooking Channel’s The Perfect Three. She can be reached via her website at lisa@lisaglickman.com.
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    Biblical Chicken

6 to 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
½ cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup slivered almonds

For the sauce:

1 cup chicken stock (plus a bit more for the slurry)
½ cup apple cider (the cloudy unfiltered kind)
1/3 cup dry white wine
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons honey
¼ cup golden raisins (optional)
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with
¼ cup chicken stock and
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Chopped parsley for garnish

Season the flour with the salt and pepper. Flatten the chicken thighs gently and dredge in the flour. Shake off excess flour. In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the slivered almonds and cook until golden brown. Remove almonds with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and set aside. Add the chicken to the hot fat and cook over medium heat on each side until rich golden brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Pour out remaining oil leaving the brown bits in the pan. To make the sauce, pour the white wine into the pan and stir to remove brown bits and intensify flavor, about three minutes. Add the stock, apple cider, lemon juice and zest, honey, raisins and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Add chicken back to pan, cover and turn heat to low. Allow chicken to finish cooking in sauce, about 20 minutes. Lift chicken from sauce and arrange on platter. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Bring sauce to a boil and add cornstarch/chicken stock/soy sauce mixture a little bit at a time to bring sauce to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with slivered almonds and chopped parsley.

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