If you’ve used honey in the kitchen recently, you’re not alone. It’s becoming more and more popular with Americans these days. And it’s not just in the home where honey is popular. Seventy-two percent of retail bakers use honey in their products.
One of the reasons for honey’s popularity is that it’s so versatile. Honey can enrich a lot of foods. Just a teaspoon in a salad dressing or stir-fry can greatly enhance flavor. And used in a barbecue marinade for beef, pork and poultry, along with orange juice and teriyaki sauce (one of my favorites), honey can really star.
As I mentioned, baking is another area where honey shines. I recall years ago when a co-worker of mine, Jim Litzinger, had a honey operation. (North Dakota leads the nation in honey production.) I used to buy large, glass orange juice containers of honey from him, which Mom used in place of sugar in her tasty buns.
One of my favorite pastimes was to go to her house on the day she was baking buns and have some of them warm, right out of the oven, with a little butter. (This Easter, we’ll be having some with our ham dinner.)
Here is a roast chicken recipe with an Italian twist that shows the versatility of honey. Along with the meat’s natural juices, honey is used for basting.
Lemony Honey Glazed Roasted Chicken
1½ cups fresh lemon juice
1 3½ to 4 pound) whole roasting chicken
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs (or ½ tablespoon dried oregano and ½ tablespoon dried basil)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/3 cup honey
Pour lemon juice in large bowl. Place chicken in juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Turn chicken over and let marinate an additional hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove chicken from marinate. Sprinkle on Italian herbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Place thyme sprigs in cavity of chicken.
Place chicken breast side up on a rack in roasting pan. Roast uncovered for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and roast for an additional 30 minutes.
Heat honey and with pastry brush thoroughly coat chicken all over. Lower heat to 350 degrees. Continue to cook until well browned, about 45 minutes, occasionally basting chicken with the natural juices and recoating it with honey. Use a meat thermometer to make sure chicken is fully cooked, 170 degrees.
If desired, use gravy separator to remove fat from pan juices and ladle juice over brown rice.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 4-ounce serving: 225 calories, 7 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 16 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, no dietary fiber, 76 milligrams sodium.