Nova Scotia Maple Chicken

An easy sweet-savory chicken dish from our Canadian neighbors.
An easy sweet-savory chicken dish from our Canadian neighbors.

“Chicken A to Z: 1,000 Recipes from Around the World” (Rizzoli) is a door-stopper of a book, a hefty tome with 1,000 recipes from all parts of the globe for everyone’s favorite poultry.

Written by French author Mireille Sanchez, this definitive cookbook is arranged by country, with chicken recipes galore, from “Bhutan’s Cayenne Pepper Chicken on Red Rice” and “Argentina’s Welsh Apricot Chicken” to “Indonesia’s Java Fried Chicken” and “Tanzania’s Chicken and Banana Soup.”

Long on recipes, it is short on photos, though, which might make it less appealing to some. You may need to Google or hunt online for some of the more esoteric ingredients, too, such as chicken blood in one Brazilian recipe, or corchorus (jute mallow) for an Egyptian dish.

I also wish the book included introductions for each recipe to not only reveal its significance to the spotlighted country but also to hint at what the dish is like in terms of taste and appeal. As it is, you have to use your own imagination when reading the recipe to glean what it might be like.

There’s no serious thinking needed, though, to know that maple syrup, mustard and orange juice make fpr a delicious marinade. That’s why I honed in on the recipe from Novia Scotia for “Maple Chicken.” It’s easy enough to make on a weeknight, too.

The recipe called for bone-in, skinless chicken pieces. However, if you know me, you know I love chicken skin. So, I opted for skin-on chicken thighs. The recipe didn’t state to season them, but I think they benefit from a sprinkle of salt and black pepper all over.

The simple marinade, which includes fresh basil and chopped almonds, also didn’t include salt, but I added a pinch, as noted in the recipe below. It gets poured over the chicken in a baking dish, and baked until cooked through.

If you use skin-on chicken, you may want to slide it under the broiler for about a minute just to color and crisp the skin. The marinade makes for a satisfying sweet-piquant sauce. It’s on the thin side, so if you like it a little more syrupy, you can remove the chicken to a platter, and pour the sauce into a small saucepan to boil on the stovetop until it reduces a bit.

After baking, I broiled the chicken briefly to give the skin more color.
After baking, I broiled the chicken briefly to give the skin more color.

The chicken ends up very juicy and moist. The almonds get charred, lending a very toasty nuttiness, as well as welcome crunch.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been to Nova Scotia. But at least now I’ve had the chance to savor a taste of that neighbor to the North.

Nova Scotia Maple Chicken

(Serves 6)

For orange-maple marinade:

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

Kosher salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

For chicken:

1/4 cup chopped almonds

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or drumsticks), skin removed (or not)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together all marinade ingredients, then blend in almonds, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and place in a shallow baking dish. Pour marinade mixture over the chicken.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, basting occasionally, until cooked through. If using skin-on chicken, broil the chicken for a minute to crisp up the skin before serving. If you prefer a pan sauce with more body, remove the chicken to a platter, and tent with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the baking pan into a saucepan on medium-high heat. Simmer until sauce reduces a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve sauce with the chicken.

Adapted from “Chicken A to Z” by Mireille Sanchez

More Recipes From Canada to Enjoy: Moroccan Lamb, Tomato and Chickpea Soup

And: Kinako Brown Butter Shortbread

And: Apple Custard Tart

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