Sep 21st, 2004
I've had some fun cooking with spices this weekend. Sunday I made a fabulous chicken curry using a homemade curry powder blend.I'll save that recipe for another post. On Saturday I wanted to try cooking up some chicken breasts using the peach jam I made as a glaze. I got all excited when I got to pull out my little jar of Star Anise. If you haven't used star anise before, it's an 8 pointed woody spice that looks kind of like a tiny little starfish. It has a slight licorice aroma, like aniseed, as well as a unique taste that is hard to describe. It's an ingredient in Chinese 5 spice powder, so if you've tasted that or had a 5-spice rubbed chicken or duck you've tasted star anise. I've used it before in a recipe for slow cooked Asian spareribs that is really tasty. I'll try to remember to put that recipe up here some day.
Anyway, to make the glaze I put some of the peach jam in a pot over low heat. I added some soy sauce, a splash of chicken broth, and a couple star anise. I let that cook for ten minutes or so, stirring it often until the jam melted and the sauce came together. Then I just poured it over the chicken breasts in a small Pyrex baking dish and put it in the oven at 400F for about half an hour. The chicken breasts were organic and had their little rib bones intact. I think using the bone-in breasts in this preparation makes the meat more moist.
The chicken was delicious, moist and tender and sweet and salty and aromatic. I would definitely recommend trying this simple dish if you get your hands on some star anise. Apricot jam would probably be my first choice if I were going to buy a jam to make this with, as it's a little tangier somehow than the peach.
We ate the chicken with broccoli and an Indian spiced brown rice pilaf, which continued the exotic spices theme, and about which I'll post a separate post, as it's a keeper as well.