Workhorse ingredients get a refresh in this honey-garlic chicken sheet-pan dinner
Confession: Sometimes, I open my refrigerator or look in my pantry, make a mental note of a few main ingredients and then do an internet search on those few items just to see what pops up.
Yes, I have excellent cookbooks, The Washington Post archives and favorite, trusted websites, but sometimes I enjoy casting a wider net.
On one such an evening, my search terms were chicken, broccoli and new potatoes. I knew that I was definitely not going to the grocery store, but wanted something fast and delicious that was new to me - even if the ingredients were culinary workhorses.
Most often, such broad searches end up giving me the germ of an idea that I then tweak and tweak to get the dish where I want it to be. On this evening, however, Chungah Rhee's recipe for Sheet Pan Honey-Garlic Chicken and Broccoli appeared, giving me not only a quick supper, but a new site to bookmark.
After I made it the first time, I went back to the site, digging a little deeper. I found dishes that reflected the food Rhee grew up eating, including Korean beef bulgogi and kimchi fried rice. Under the summer category, I discovered tasty sides, including grilled corn with cilantro lime butter, which I made this weekend, and an avocado potato salad, which I will make soon. (She even has dog food recipes because she has two, obviously spoiled, corgis.)
Rhee started Damn Delicious in 2011 as a hobby, using a Tumblr account. It grew from there and is now her full-time job, she said via email from her home in Los Angeles.
"I prefer to develop recipes that are not only quick and easy for the home cook but also ones that incorporate ingredients that are easy to find so people don't have to visit two to three grocery stores/specialty shops," she said.
Like most of us, she uses trial-and-error testing and finds inspiration from other recipes. Also, she noted that she is "all about one-pan meals for the easiest clean up ever."
Even though it was delicious just as she directed, I couldn't help tinkering a little. Rhee made this entree with chicken breasts. I've now made it with both the breast and thighs and prefer the dark meat because I find them more flavorful and forgiving, as they remain juicer in a hot oven. One tip: For even cooking, make sure all the chicken pieces are close in size, even if that means halving some.
Next, I may try Rhee's suggestion of subbing in blanched green beans for the broccoli. I might give the dish a little heat by adding a dash of chile sauce or crushed red pepper flakes to the honey-garlic sauce.
If I make any other changes or substitutions, one thing I won't change is the final step, which calls for running that rimmed baking sheet of ingredients under the broiler for just a few minutes to give everything a little char and browning.
"They get so perfectly caramelized under the broiler and makes it almost too easy to eat your greens for the day," Rhee said.
She's right. It's a finishing touch that makes all the difference.