The Recipe Box

Most of the things I remember my grandmother cooking, I can cook from memory.  Or I don’t even realize that I’m making them until someone points it out to me, since it’s how I’ve always made something.  This does not mean that my grandmother didn’t write down recipes.  She had a recipe box that was cute and filled with pink, lined notecards covered in Grandma’s small, neat cursive.  So this past weekend, I went through her recipe box and pulled out a few I remember her making.  My goal is to make them and report back.  Lots of them are sort of fancy foreign dishes- French food or Chinese mostly.  I’m holding off on those for now since it’s school season and I won’t have time.  But look for them when I’m on vacation.

Last night I made Grandma’s Honey Sherry Glaze for ribs.  But I used it on chicken thighs.  It was delicious.  I read it over but couldn’t really remember her ever making it.  I definitely do not remember her ever making ribs or chicken wings (the recipe card suggested ribs or wings).  That wasn’t something that was usual fare at her table- she was a chicken and fish kind of lady.  But when I tasted it, it tasted familiar.  I had vague memories of fall dinners after long school days.  Of sitting at her table with Grandpa and my mother and talking about homework.  Of not wanting to go home afterwards, but wanting to stay at Grandma’s overnight.

Honey Sherry Glaze for Ribs.  Or chicken wings.  Or just chicken.

Ingredients:

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)

2 Tablespoons minced onion

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 cup honey

1 clove minced garlic

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup sherry

Salt and pepper to taste

4 lbs ribs (I used about 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Place chicken thighs into a baking dish and pour sauce over.

Bake  until cooked through (boneless skinless thighs don’t take too long- maybe 10-20 minutes, depending).  You may want to brown your thighs on the stove before putting them into the oven with the sauce, but that’s entirely your call.

If you’re using ribs or wings, Grandma says to put these into the oven and to baste them with the sauce.  She also says “takes 2 hours”.  I interpret this to mean that you should put some sauce in the bottom of the pan and then use the warm sauce from the stove to baste the meat pretty often.

If you’re using chicken thighs, you’ll have lots of sauce leftover.  This is probably true for the ribs/wings as well.  You can discard it if you’re using the ribs/wings because, after all, this is a glaze.  If you’re like me, you do not like throwing things away so here’s what I did.

After the thighs were cooked through, I took them out of the pan and put them aside. 

I poured the sauce from the pan back into the saucepan and let it boil on the stove until it was reduced by about half. It got thick and rich and downright delicious. 

I then put both the chicken and the sauce together in the baking pan and put that into a warm oven.

–Funny story about my ovens:  my grandmother designed her kitchen to meet her standards.  They did a huge kitchen re-model in the early ’80’s and she made sure to have lots of closet space, counter tops, room to move and double, wall-hung ovens.  State of the art back in the ’80’s- Jenn Air.  They’ve lasted quite some time but now, in 2010, we only have one working oven.  The bottom oven works pretty well- sometimes bakes unevenly but mostly it’s fine.  The top oven?  Well, it decides just how hot/cold/warm it wants to be.  You can set it for 450 but it may decide that it feels like that’s too much work and will only get to about 200.  Or it may decide that 450 isn’t hot enough to cook whatever it is you’re baking and it’ll take itself up to 500.  Yeh, we need new ovens.  I keep waiting for the Kitchen Fairy to show up and install new ovens and a new gas or induction stovetop with six working burners instead of four lopsided sort of working burners and two nonfunctioning ones.  So far, no luck.  —

So, I played with fate and put the chicken into the top oven for a few minutes to warm it up.  The oven approved and about five minutes later I had nicely warmed chicken and sauce which was great over rice.

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