Nanny used to make something we called sticky chicken. She’d brown some chicken pieces in hot oil in a cast iron skillet, add a little water, and let the chicken slow cook until it was done. The skin would be sticky and the meat would just fall off the bone.
I wanted to make something like it this weekend but changed it up a bit by making sort of a thin barbeque sauce for the chicken and finished it all off in the oven.
Nanny’s chicken always had red glazed look to it and I remember a touch of sweetness too but Mama swears she didn't use any sauce or marinade.
I’m not so sure. Nanny was a hot mess. And I wouldn't put it past her to withhold important information from her Yankee daughter-in-law.
Nanny lived a quarter mile from us down a two-rut road that cut through the fields. I went to her house almost every single day of my life once I was old enough to walk.
She and I were buds. And I think she liked to mess with Mama. I told you – Nanny was a booger. I remember her plaiting my hair one day with five hundred thousand million tiny braids and sending me home with a “tell your mama to have fun getting all them plaits out”.
Oh lawwww. What a mess. But that’s why I’m thinking there might have been more to her chicken than salt and pepper. I decided to marinate mine and then use the marinade to make a thin sauce for the chicken to “stew” in while it cooked.
I think Nanny wanted her picture published is what I think. And she "sent" this to me. Just now. Seriously, what are the odds? Thank you Regina who sent it to Leona who sent it to Mama who sent it to me right at this very moment. I've never ever even seen this picture. Wasn't she beautiful?
Well, Nanny, if you're listening, I miss you very much and I think about you all the time. Especially when I'm cooking. I remember that green stool you used to make me sit on when you were cooking so I'd keep out of your way. And playing rummy on the back porch for hours. And the plum trees and maypops. And spending the night with you all the time - you never said no when I'd ask. And riding with you to Aunt June's. And watching the "stories" together in your recliner.
Wow. How bizarre.
OK, back to the recipe...
Don’t let the dark color scare you. This isn't burnt but it will get pretty dark due to the honey in the sauce. And that sauce is delicious! I set the skillet right on the table when it was time to eat and kept dunking my chicken in the sauce to sop it up.
8-10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and/or legs*
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce**
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Add chicken to a large zip-top bag or resealable container. Combine remaining ingredients and mix well then pour over chicken. Marinate chicken for 6-10 hours (or overnight).
Heat a large cast iron skillet (see below for alternate preparation also) over medium heat. Add just enough vegetable oil to skillet to coat the bottom. Once oil and pan are hot, add chicken pieces, reserving marinade. The honey in the marinade can burn if you cook these too hot so be sure to have your temperature at medium – hot enough to bubble and sizzle but not hot enough to scorch the chicken. Cook chicken on all sides until browned. We’re not trying to cook the chicken through, just sear it.
Pour marinade into skillet. Place skillet, uncovered, in oven and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, basting chicken pieces 3-4 times during the hour.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet or a frying pan big enough to fit all the chicken pieces, don’t worry! Just brown the chicken in batches in any sturdy skillet. Transfer browned chicken to a 13x9 baking dish, pour the reserved marinade into the dish and bake and baste per recipe.
*I wouldn't recommend boneless, skinless chicken or chicken breasts for this as I think they would surely dry out. If you try it anyway, reduce oven time to 35-45 minutes. But don’t fuss at me if it’s dry.
**I promise this doesn't make it spicy. I used hot sauce because it has vinegar in it and we needed a little acid to balance the sweetness of the honey.