I Amaze Myself

Saturday, while trying to recover from taking care of an abandoned 4-week-old kitten, I set out to make a little cucumber salad as a snack. I had successfully made the following dish several days before–it kind of resembles those sweet/sour ginger salads you get at some Japanese restaurants:

Cucumber-Radish Salad

3 Persian cucumbers (or 1 large regular cucumber), thinly sliced
4 – 5 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 – 3/4 c sugar
1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients except cucumbers and radishes in medium-sized bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add cucumbers and radishes. Let sit for at least an hour at room temperature before serving.

But on Saturday I decided to “improve” the recipe by adding a dash of some fancy ginger-scallion vinegar I’d gotten at some overpriced grocery store whose name Whole Foods will go unmentioned. So I pulled the bottle off the shelf and dashed it into the mix.

Unfortunately I failed to notice that the bottle lacked one of those plastic spouts that allows you to dash vinegar properly. The bottle was nearly full when I tipped it over. There’s about 1/4 cup left now.

I soldiered on, but the resulting salad–cucumbers floating in a brown sea of sugary/gingery vinegar–was not, shall we say, all it could have been. Still, a little voice told me not to throw out the dressing. I mean, it wasn’t so great with the cucumbers, but that cup of vinegar probably cost as much as a pair of shoes. (Well, maybe one shoe. From Target.)

Now I go down on bended knee and give thanks that I did not throw out that dressing. For later that day a vision flashed before my eyes, one that still astonishes me in its brilliance.

In the refrigerator, waiting to be cooked for supper, were several chicken thighs. What would happen, I thought, if I marinated them in that vinegar and cooked them?

Well, I am here to report that they were spectacular. I added quite a bit of garlic to the dressing and made a reduction once the thighs had cooked. And I even used the World’s Most Awful Wine in the reduction.

Here is the recipe as best I can remember it–but as you now know from my experiences, even royal screw-ups can yield great results.

I have modified the recipe with the assumption that you don’t have a $20 bottle of ginger-scallion vinegar lying around the house.

Chicken Thighs with Garlic Ginger Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (skin on would be better, but I was feeling lazy when I bought them)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 – 4 scallions, sliced thin

For sauce:
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp. chicken fat (optional–omit if using thighs with skin)

In small bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, sugar, chili garlic sauce, ginger, garlic, and scallions. Stir until sugar dissolves. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in small casserole dish. Pour vinegar mix over chicken and let sit for 30 minutes. Bake, uncovered, at 325 for 25 minutes or until done.

Remove chicken from casserole dish. Melt butter and chicken fat in medium skillet on medium heat. Add sauce from casserole dish. Add wine. Increase heat to medium high and cook until sauce has thickened. Pour over chicken and serve.

Then pat yourself on the back for your own brilliance.

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