I’m beginning to think that moments of culinary inspiration aren’t so different from artistic inspiration. Except, fortunately, artists don’t eat their work–for the most part anyway. The inspiration occurs when several different factors combine at once inside your head and bam! you’ve got an idea for dinner. At least that’s how it happens for me.
Last week my dad sent a photo of a dinner he cooked with the caption, “Still got it!” He made this fantastic glazed pork loin with broiled pineapple. It looked so great, in fact, that I made the very same recipe Saturday night while “watching” the Michigan football game with Robert:
I loved every single part of this meal–the sweet glaze combined with the slightly salty pork, the juicy grilled pineapple, and especially the Asian inspired dipping sauce served on the side (not pictured.) Oh…the sauce! I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Hoisin, pineapple juice, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. It’s like the best combination of flavors all in one bowl. Robert and I dipped our pork and pineapple directly into the sauce (it’s totally acceptable to do those kinds of things when there are only two of you sharing a meal.) There was also the fact that I bought an entire 32 oz bottle of organic pineapple juice for the original recipe that only required 2 Tbsp. Clearly I have a tendency to overestimate ingredients. So I was also on a mission to use up the juice.
The pork loin happened to be the impetus to help me overcome my fear of the broiler. Yes, I have a complete nonsensical fear of the broiler that probably stems from the fact that the broiler in my old apartment’s electric oven was no better than tossing meat on a radiator. If you were lucky and the food actually cooked all the way through it was rubbery and chewy. Gross! As a result, I’ve always skipped recipes that require me to broil anything. When I asked my dad if he broiled the pork like the recipe suggests he confirmed that he did and responded, “Be brave my daughter.”
I heeded my father’s advice and with only one snafu (the meat was a little too close to the flame at first hence some charring (a.k.a. extra flavor that no one was complaining about)) and learned that a real gas broiler is actually a very easy, efficient, and tasty way to cook.
And then, in a moment, all of these factors combined and the inspiration for broiled chicken thighs using the dipping sauce as a marinade sprung into my head. From there, the rest of the pieces (i.e. the sesame snow peas) fell into place.
Ultimately, I took a slightly more involved recipe (the pork), which makes for a perfect weekend meal when you have a little more time and turned it into an easy peasy weeknight dinner. Just promise me you’ll try both? Deal.
Hoisin Glazed Chicken
1 to 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 Tbsp hoisin sauce
4 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp hot sauce such as Sriracha (optional)
Add hoisin sauce, pineapple juice, soy sauce, mustard, ginger, garlic, and hot sauce in a bowl and stir to combine. Place chicken thighs in a bag, pour sauce on top, and marinate at least one hour.
Heat broiler (on high if it’s an option.) Place chicken on a broil-safe baking sheet lined with foil about 4 inches away from flame and broil about 6 minutes on each side.
Sesame Snow Peas
9 oz snow peas
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red chili peppers (optional)
Steam snow peas for less than 1 minute until they turn bright green. Drain. Toss snow peas in a bowl with sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and chili peppers.
Source: Slightly adapted from Recipegirl.com