I adore Chinese-style roast duck, with its brown lacquered skin, heady sweet sauce, and fragrant five-spice seasoning. But I rarely have time to prep and air-chill the duck for a couple of days. My default approach is to roast air-chilled chicken thighs, separating the skin from the flesh and brushing on a honey-soy glaze to a shiny, crisp effect. The result is an amazing rendition of gà quay mật on (honey-roasted chicken). To build a meal, I roast vegetables in the oven too. Sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts or broccoli cook on a lower rack while the chicken sizzles above. It’s efficient, cozy cooking that is perfect for fall or winter.
4 garlic cloves, smashed
Chubby 1-inch (1-ounce) section ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced and smashed
Fine sea salt
1 tablespoon sake, gin, or vodka
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Brimming ⅓ cup honey
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds total, preferably air-chilled)
3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
½ teaspoon recently ground black pepper
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into long wedges ¾ to 1 inch thick
12 ounces brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise, or broccoli florets, cut into 2-inch-wide pieces
1½ tablespoons hoisin sauce, plus more as needed
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the garlic, ginger, ¼ teaspoon salt, sake, soy sauce, and honey and bring to a bubbly boil. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes, then strain the glaze into a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a rack inside.
In a small bowl, combine the five-spice powder with 1 teaspoon salt. Rub the seasonings on the flat underside of each chicken thigh, flip the thigh and peel back the skin, and then season the flesh underneath. Reposition the skin and sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt on top. Put the thighs on the prepared rack, spaced as far apart as possible for heat circulation during roasting. For good flavor and crisp skin, let the chicken sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes (the longer the better).
Meanwhile, position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In a medium bowl, combine the canola oil, pepper, and a rounded ½ teaspoon salt and then toss with the sweet potato and brussels sprouts. Arrange the potatoes, skin-side down, on the prepared baking sheet.
Set aside about ¼ cup of the glaze to use for the sauce. The remainder will be used during roasting.
Slide the chicken onto the upper oven rack and the sweet potatoes onto the lower rack and roast for about 40 minutes, checking three times at 10-minute intervals. After the first 10 minutes, brush the glaze all over the skin of the chicken and add the brussels sprouts to the baking sheet with the potatoes. After another 10 minutes, flip the thighs and glaze their undersides. Roast for 10 minutes more to set the glaze, then flip the thighs and brush glaze on the skin. Roast for a final 8 to 10 minutes, until the shiny skin is a rich brown and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reaches 160°F.
Remove the chicken from the oven. If the sweet potatoes didn’t brown enough, roast on the top rack for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Let the chicken and vegetable rest for 5 to 10 minutes then try to Mix the reserved glaze with the hoisin sauce; if needed, add up to 1½ teaspoons hoisin to create a pleasant savory-sweet finish. Enjoy