Holy Toledo...or in this case, holy Cincinnati Enquirer. For at least two years now, my kitchen has been decorated with this recipe clipping sent from my mom. I have intended to make these interesting skewers for years...and to no avail. The poor little clipping has hopped all around the refrigerator door in hopes of catching my eye. For awhile it was in the top left corner next to another recipe for Cheddar Pumpkin soup (which WILL get made next fall). Then it migrated to a bulletin board stabbed with dozens of 'To Make/Made' recipes. Then it was clipped with a clothespin to my spice rack. And then finally, the last place was right at eye level next to the freezer handle.
Finally finally finally today was the day to pull the almost yellowed newspaper clipping from under the magnet. I had a thawed piece of chicken in the fridge, and this afternoon was trying to figure out what to do with it. I was at the CO-OP shopping for some bulk spices, and remembered my friend the cinnamon chicken recipe. So I hurried home to acquaint myself.
This was one of those times in my life where I realized how much I have been missing out. This recipe was a gigantic crowd pleaser tonight...for the one dining guest in my house: me. I was giving the chef rave reviews.
I realized that there were a few ingredients on the original recipe that I didn't have and didn't want to go buy because I probably wouldn't use them within the next year. So I ad libbed...which is always fun to get the creative energy flowing. So instead of plum sauce, I swapped in tamarind paste and maple syrup. Instead of dry sherry, I popped open a bottle of Vinho Verde (white wine). So if you have either of the original ingredients, by all means, use them. Or swap in a similar ingredient.
A little side note...threading the chicken onto the cinnamon sticks mildly reminding me of changing my earrings for the first time after getting them pierced. You have to pave the way through each chicken piece with a wooden or metal skewer so that the cinnamon stick can go through. So if you've never pushed a pointed piece of metal through a piece of flesh, here is your chance.
On a lighter, less gruesome note, you'll be gifted with the best part of this recipe as well, which is a warm cinnamon scented kitchen. While the chicken was baking, I stepped outside for a few minutes. When I stepped back inside, was pleasantly greeted with a spiced aroma wafting from the oven. I could almost see the streams of cinnamon coming out of the door. This may not sound so appealing to those of you who are living in warm climates currently. But for a Seattle dweller, it was lovely. So make them on the grill instead!
Cinnamon Stick Skewered Chicken
Adapted from Cincinnati Enquirer recipe
Yields 1 appetizer plate
This is a brilliant and healthy way to serve chicken so that you feel like you are eating wings. As an added bonus, you get the fragrance of cinnamon steaming from the center of chicken with each bite. The original recipe was to grill the skewers, which is great too, if you are a grilling type. Either way, you will be smiling with every bite.
1 medium chicken breast (boneless, skinless, free-range if possible)
6-8 cinnamon sticks, carefully sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 tsp tamarind paste (or 1 tsp plum sauce)
1/2 tsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp white wine (I used Vinho Verde)
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 scallions, very thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the sauce next, by whisking the tamarind paste, maple syrup, wine, hoisin and soy sauce in a medium bowl.
Prepare the chicken skewers next by cutting the chicken into two inch cubes. Using a wooden or metal skewer, make a hole in each chicken cube. Make sure it is big enough for the cinnamon stick to fit through. After making the hole, thread one cinnamon stick into each cube. This should produce between 12 and 16 individual skewers.
Dip each piece of skewered chicken into the sauce so that it is fully covered. Save any extra sauce to baste the chicken. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. While they are baking, prepare the scallions and sesame seeds.
Take the pan out of oven, flip each piece of chicken over. Pour any extra sauce over each piece to baste. Bake for another 8 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Depending on the thickness of each piece, you may have to bake a little longer.
Take out of oven. Place each skewer on a serving plate in a creative display. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately with the white wine you used in the sauce.