24 Jan 2018 Silan (Date Honey) Glazed Chicken with Cranberries
Next week is Tu B’Shevat (15 Shevat/Jan.31), which the Sages teach is the New Year for the Trees.
When I was in 9th grade, we lived in Jerusalem for the school year. Aside from the excitement (stress? fear? confusion?) of the Gulf War that winter, one of the memories that stands out in my mind is tree planting on Tu B’Shevat. Standing on some muddy hill, in the rain, in beautiful Israel, planting a sapling… Replenishing the holy ground with new life… Now that I think about it – I wonder if the sapling that I planted grew into a tree.
Fast forward a whole bunch of years… Four years ago (Jan.2014), my husband and I were fortunate enough to attend the first ever Tu B’Shevat seder at the Knesset. It was truly an “only in Israel” experience, deeply moving and impactful. The tables were laden with fruits, flowers, red and white wines, and nuts. At every seat there was a Tu B’Shevat Haggadah and a seder plate. Given that everything on the table was kosher, and we could partake of all the beautiful bounty of the land, it was a once-in-a-lifetime (indescribable), amazing and inspiring experience.
To say that Tu B’Shevat here pales in comparison to the observance of the day in Israel would be an understatement.
However, with my memories of tree planting as a 9th grader and more recent memories of the Knesset Seder… this recipe came into being.
In honor of Tu B’Shevat and the good, good Land that Hashem granted us, and the gift of life that replenishes every year and the bounty it provides… Here is a special chicken dish that celebrates the devash (honey) of the shivas ha’minim (7 blessed species of the land of Israel, see Devarim 8:8). For Rashi teaches that the devash of the Land is actually devash temarim (honey of dates).
The flavors are fabulous, the color of the chicken is gorgeous, the chicken is tender and succulent, and the cranberries and red onion add a lovely punch to the dish.
Silan (Date Honey) Glazed Chicken with Cranberries
Note: I made this with 4 whole chicken bottoms, and used 1 large red onion for the 4 pieces of chicken. If you are making more chicken pieces, use more onion.
Note: Silan, also known as Date Honey or Date Syrup, is a common ingredient found in the regular supermarkets. It’s very dark brown, almost black, and has a consistency somewhat thinner than regular honey.
Pre heat the oven to 350*.
In the bottom of a baking (or foil) pan, arrange sliced red onion. Place your chicken pieces over the onion slices. Over and around the chicken and onions, scatter whole raw cranberries. (If you cannot get them fresh, buy the frozen whole cranberries. They work perfectly in this recipe and there’s no need to defrost them before using.)
Sprinkle each piece of chicken with allspice.
Smear one spoon of apricot jam onto each piece of chicken, smearing to more or less coat each piece of chicken as best as possible.
Drizzle honey (regular honey) back and forth over the chicken/onions/cranberries. Drizzle silan (date honey) back and forth over the chicken/onions/cranberries. (Note: the cranberries are naturally very tart, so don’t be skimpy with the honey and silan. You don’t want to drown the chicken in the honeys!, but you do want a generous drizzle of both.)
Sprinkle each piece of chicken with a couple of drops of red wine vinegar.
Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake the chicken for about an hour and a half covered. Uncover the pan, and bake open, basting often, till the chicken is golden and glazed – about another 30 minutes.
Note: If you are using white meat, which is leaner and drier than dark meat, watch the chicken so that it does not dry out.
Serve the chicken with whatever side dish you like, spooning the onions, cranberries and pan juices (as it bakes, the chicken yields delicious pan juices) over each piece before serving.
Happy cooking, enjoy and wishing you a meaningful Tu B’Shevat!