15 August 2013

I know what you're thinking: "Why is Lesa posting a picture of burnt chicken?"  Fear not, this chicken isn't burnt, it's just coated in a very dark glaze.  A delicious glaze.  There are lots of yummy flavors going on in this chicken.

It's reveal day for this month's Improv Challenge.  The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's assigned ingredients were chocolate and vanilla.  I immediately got hungry for a twist cone.  Then, as usual, I thought it would be fun to try something savory with these two ingredients.  Not easy.  But I did some creative googling and found a Cooking Light recipe for chicken with a vanilla balsamic glaze on it.  I thought that sounded really interesting. Then, instead of seasoning the chicken with just salt and pepper like the recipe called for, I used a cocoa spice rub on it instead.  I adapted a recipe from Michael Chiarello for that.  Here's what I came up with when I merged these two recipes.

Cocoa-Rubbed Chicken with Vanilla Balsamic Glaze

½ cup reduced sodium chicken broth
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 (2”) piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine chicken broth, vinegar, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds into broth mixture, reserving the bean for another use. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until it has reduced as is thick and syrupy (about 20-30 minutes). 

Arrange chicken in a single layer in the bottom of a baking dish coated with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, cinnamon, coriander, white pepper, salt, and smoked paprika.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with cocoa spice rub. Bake for 15 minutes.

Brush half of broth mixture over chicken and bake another 15-20 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked through.  Remove from oven and brush remaining glaze on top.

Makes 4 servings (2 thighs each).

 This was a great way to use the Beanilla vanilla beans I got in my Taste of Michigan swag bag last fall.

 Look at all that vanilla goodness.

The chicken with the cocoa spice rub.  

This chicken was really good!  Unfortunately, the balsamic vinegar kind of overpowered the vanilla flavor, so it wasn't prominent, but it was still really tasty.  You could really taste the cocoa though.  It didn't make the chicken taste like chocolate at all though.  It just gave it a really great depth of flavor. One of things that will make people say, "Hmm, what is that?"  No one would guess it was cocoa.  I can't wait to use the cocoa spice rub on other things.  I think it would be great on pork chops.

Check out all the great chocolate and vanilla recipes below and come back next month to see what I make with pasta and cheese.

Tagged: , , , ,


  1. hmmm -- looks a delicious twist on molé, I will need to try this out on my guys!

  2. Love that you went savory and I'm goi to give e recipe a try, sounds wonderfulmm

  3. How fun to see a savory recipe for the chocolate and vanilla challenge! Your rub sounds terrific!

  4. I love how you often take traditionally sweet ingredients and make a delicious savory dish out of them! Your chicken reminds me of a Mexican mole sauce. I love the idea.

  5. huge props on going for a savory dish! I didn't expect one at all this month, but I really want to try this!

  6. Kim (Feed Me, Seymour)August 15, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    I really like the idea of a chocolate and vanilla savory dish! Totally different from what I expected.

  7. AnneFromMySweetHeartAugust 16, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    Lesa....how wonderfully creative! What a great way to add 2 sweet ingredients into a savory dish! That coating looks amazing. And those vanilla beans were so plump! Fabulous job with the secret ingredients this month! : )

  8. Karen - Cinnamon FreudAugust 16, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    I love that you went savory this month- very bold! Looks very interesting.