One night last spring, I got the urge for roast duck à l’orange—its moist meat, glazed skin, and appealing sweet-savory flavors were what I craved. But since this whim of mine was a last-minute notion, I had to make do with what I had on hand.
I couldn’t exactly get free-range duck at 7:00 on a Sunday night, so I decided to try a quick glazing method on chicken, with ingredients from my pantry and a two-step bake-and-broil technique. The chicken was delicious—very moist inside with a flavorful surface. Parts of the skin got crispy and other parts got sort of glazy-sticky—a bit like barbecued chicken. That successful dinner has inspired quite a few other glazes, including orange-balsamic, ginger-soy, and mustard-molasses. Sweet-glazed chicken is now a weeknight dinner favorite at my house—and it’s a top seller at my take-out shop, too.
Use a two-step process — bake, then broil
Start the process by mixing a thick, sweet-savory glaze in a small, shallow bowl and then dredging the chicken pieces through the mixture so they’re evenly coated.
Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down in a shallow rimmed pan. This way, the glaze won’t run off, and the skin will have good contact with the pan during cooking so more fat gets rendered. A sheet pan works best because it exposes the chicken to a maximum amount of oven heat during baking. In a deeper pan, the chicken would swim in juices and glaze runoff, and the skin would stay rubbery.
The first stage of cooking—baking at 400°F—cooks the chicken thoroughly but keeps it moist inside. Next, turn the pieces over and broil them, rotating the pan or the chicken pieces every few minutes to encourage even browning and prevent burning. This brief broiling gives a crisped, caramelized finish and intensifies the flavor of the glaze.
As a final note, these sweet glazes do get sticky, but don’t bother lining the pan with foil. I tried it and found that the foil adheres to the glazed chicken. Personally, I’d rather soak a sticky pan overnight than have to peel bits of foil off my chicken.