Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

While I was brainstorming ways to revise the recipe for pumpkin chicken thighs, I came up with a savorier flavor combination- miso, pumpkin, and honey. This trifecta is a complete umami extravaganza. The flavor is very comparable to Man-Pleasing Chicken. So, for everyone who wrote in asking whether they would like Man-Pleasing Chicken even though they don’t like mustard or maple syrup (the two key ingredients), my answer remains…yes, I still think you would. But if you don’t want to risk it, this recipe is a good alternative. If you also dislike pumpkin, miso, and honey, then you have my sincerest condolences. If I were forced to choose between the first iteration of pumpkin chicken thighs and this one, I would probably opt for the former because its flavor evolves more on the palate, while this one hits a single savory note. Still, it’s a damn good note.

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

To begin, preheat your oven to 450º F. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon of miso paste, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of chicken stock. You can find miso paste in your grocery store’s refrigerated section, sometimes near the tofu. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s, but I have also gotten it from Whole Foods before. Other uses- miso-sesame vinaigrette or carrot-ginger dressing!

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with tin foil, and nestle in 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Sprinkle them with black pepper.

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Pour all of the pumpkin sauce over the chicken thighs, making sure that they are fully coated on the tops and bottoms.

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Bake the chicken thighs for 20 minutes. Then, remove them from the oven, and baste the tops of the thighs with the sauce from the baking dish.

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Return the thighs to the oven, and bake them for another 20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the tops of the thighs begin to brown. Allow the thighs to rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Remove the thighs from the baking dish, and set them on a serving plate. Whisk the sauce that remains in the baking dish until it is smooth and uniform. Spread the sauce on top of the chicken thighs.

Miso Pumpkin Chicken Thighs

Garnish the chicken thighs with sesame seeds and/or a generous amount of minced chives (not pictured). I think the chives will help balance the savory flavor, much like the rosemary does to Man-Pleasing Chicken. Enjoy this scrumptious beauty!

Shopping list:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs- 1 pound
  • Pumpkin puree- 1/2 cup
  • Miso paste- 1 tablespoon
  • Honey- 2 tablespoons
  • Rice vinegar- 1 tablespoon
  • Chicken stock- 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper
  • Sesame seeds/chives
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Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

I first posted about pumpkin chicken thighs after salvaging an unsuccessful attempt at pumpkin soup. The photos on that post are objectively horrendous, so I was puzzled when the recipe started gaining traction and popularity. I made the recipe again, and while it had potential, it wasn’t as good as I knew it could be. I took the post down because I wasn’t proud of it. And then people started asking for it back. So I set out to right my wrong and give you a recipe for pumpkin chicken thighs that I find much more delicious. The flavor of this sauce evolves as it lingers on the palate, from sweet to pumpkin to Japanese curry to a mildly spicy finish. I really enjoy it, and I think this recipe is a winner. But, stay tuned for a follow-up post later this week for a much savorier version of pumpkin chicken thighs- one that strays from the flavor profile in the initial recipe.

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

To begin, preheat your oven to 450º F. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of chicken stock, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with tin foil, and nestle in 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

Pour the pumpkin sauce over the chicken thighs, making sure that they are fully coated on the tops and bottoms.

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

Bake the chicken thighs for 20 minutes. Then, remove them from the oven, and baste the tops of the thighs with the sauce.

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

Return the thighs to the oven, and bake them for another 20 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the tops of the thighs begin to brown. Allow the thighs to rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Pumpkin Chicken Thighs: Back by Popular Demand!

Remove the thighs from the baking dish, and set them on a serving plate. Whisk the sauce that remains in the baking dish until it is smooth and uniform. Spread the sauce on top of the chicken thighs, and then top them with some minced parsley for color. Dish out and gobble up. These thighs are a winner, and I’ll certainly be making them again.

Shopping list:

  • Chicken thighs- 1 pound
  • Pumpkin puree- 1/2 cup
  • Maple syrup- 2 tablespoons
  • Chicken stock- 2 tablespoons
  • Rice vinegar- 1 tablespoon
  • Sea salt- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Garam masala- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground ginger- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Black pepper- 1/4 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper- 1/8 teaspoon
  • Parsley
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Spicy Sausage Mac & Cheese with Broccolini

Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese with Broccolini

I once ate a fantastic pasta with spicy sausage and rapini at Bibiana here in DC, and I’ve been in love with the flavor combination ever since. When David mentioned that I hadn’t made mac and cheese in a while, I couldn’t help but fuse the two for a very hearty winter meal. The gems of spiced, browned sausage are so delicious that you’ll mine them right out of your bowl. If you’re in the mood for something just a little lighter, I’ve got something for you too: a few slight tweaks, and you’ve got a fantastic pasta dish, which I also couldn’t help but whip up a few days later. Let’s do this!

Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese with Broccolini

For 4 generous servings of the mac and cheese version, boil 1/2 pound of fusilli. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and set it aside. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the mix-ins. Heat a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, and get 3 pork sausage links (about 10 ounces total). Slice the sausage casings, and pop the meat out of the casings and into the pan. Break the sausages up, and let them brown and cook through.

Spicy Sausage Mac and Cheese with Broccolini

Season the sausage with 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes and the secret ingredient, 1/2 tablespoon of CUMIN SEEDS! While the sausage cooks, slice 1 cup of broccolini. Once the sausage has lost almost all pinkness, add the broccolini to the pan, give it a stir, and turn off the heat.

Spicy Sausage and Broccolini Fusili

Preheat your oven to 400º F. Time to make the cheese sauce. Shred 1.25 cups of gruyere cheese (I frequently use a mix of gruyere and cheddar) and grate 1/4 cup of parmesan. Melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter in a pot (for ease, use the pasta pot once it’s free), and then stir in 1.5 tablespoons of flour. Once combined, slowly whisk in 1.25 cups of milk. Stirring constantly, bring the milk to a boil, then down to a simmer until it thickens. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese until it melts. Add the pasta, sausage, and broccolini to the pot, and stir to combine. Taste it, and season with salt, black pepper, and more red pepper flakes or cumin seeds if needed. Stir in the parmesan, and then transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish. Top the mac with the remaining shredded cheese, and bake it for 15-20 minutes until the top cheese is golden brown (you can broil if necessary). Once cooled slightly, serve and enjoy! Mac and cheese is the best because it reheats beautifully for a bonus meal.

Spicy Sausage and Broccolini Fusili

If you don’t want to go so heavy on the cheese, then turn this meal into a pasta! For 2 generous servings, boil 1/4 pound of fusilli until it is al dente. Prepare 2 sausage links (about 6 ounces) as described above, with 1 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes and cumin seeds. Add 2/3 cup of sliced broccolini and 2 minced garlic cloves to the pan shortly after adding the sausage. Once the sausage has no pink left and the broccolini is tender, reduce the heat to low, and add the pasta to the pan. Add about 1/8 cup of pasta water to the pan, along with a generous drizzling of olive oil. Taste the pasta, and season it with salt, black pepper, and more red pepper flakes or cumin seeds as needed. Stir in a generous amount of grated parmesan cheese, and serve. Although this pasta certainly isn’t a “light” meal, it’s definitely lighter than the mac and cheese and delivers most of the same flavors. But given the choice…I’d go with the mac.

Shopping list:

  • Pasta- 1/2 pound
  • Sausage- 10 ounces
  • Broccolini- 1 cup
  • Red pepper flakes- 1/2 tablespoon
  • Cumin seeds- 1/2 tablespoon
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Butter- 1.5 tablespoons
  • Flour- 1.5 tablespoons
  • Milk- 1.25 cups
  • Gruyere/cheddar cheese- 1.25 cups, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese- 1/4 cup, grated
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