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Healthy, Southern Twist on an Easter Dinner Classic

The holidays are a blast to look forward to…unless you’re the one cooking.

I think there is an expectation of the holiday hostess to produce a piece of meat of titanic proportions on holidays. Around Thanksgiving and Easter, food magazines are clouded with images of rumps and roasts and whole birds, all waiting to be dissected and demolished. Except, that doesn’t always happen.

Often, the hostess is left with more leftovers than he/she can possibility use and nary a free section of the fridge house the remaining beast.

Today’s recipe solves this domestic dilemma while maintaining the elegance and appeal of a gargantuan, glistening centerpiece. It will also save you the time and mental anguish associated with preparing large holiday meals, as the ingredient list is simple and the steps manageable.

These Honey Bourbon Chicken Thighs are a healthy, Southern twist on an Easter Dinner Classic, the honeybaked ham. Cooking them low and slow then throwing them under the broiler allows for tender meat with crisp, flavorful skin. Instead of a heavy white potato side dish, I use sweet potatoes, which digest more slowly to prevent blood-sugar spikes. The secret sauce is a whole head of cauliflower tossed in, which you can’t taste, but it adds a boosts of low-carb nutrition.

If you’ve never cooked with bourbon before you’re in for a real treat. The alcohol cooks off and imbues a flavor into your food that’s rich, smoky and a match made in heaven with the sweet kiss of honey.

This recipe is as approachable as it is delicious, and you will find yourself making it on and off the holidays. For now, wipe the bead of sweat of your brow and get excited to wow your family and friends this Easter with this flavorful, beautiful dish that is sure to become your new Easter Dinner Classic.

Honey Bourbon Chicken Thighs over Sneaky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Chicken Thigh Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup maple sugar (sub coconut sugar or brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 12 chicken thighs, skin on (I recommend organic, free-range if available)
  • ¼ cup honey (I recommend local and raw if available)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon of choice (sub orange juice for an alcohol-free version)

Chicken Thigh Procedure:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and place chicken thighs on them.
  2. Combine paprika, maple sugar and sea salt in a small bowl and whisk to incorporate.
  3. Using clean fingers, rub a thin coating of butter under and over the skin of each chicken thigh. 1 tablespoon should last the whole batch.
  4. Sprinkle ½ of your spice mixture onto the thighs and use fingers to coat evenly.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day, preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  7. Mix bourbon and honey in a small bowl.
  8. Place thighs in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and use a brush or spoon to coat each thigh with a thin layer of the honey bourbon mixture. Place bake in oven and bake another 10 minutes.
  10. Remove thighs and set your oven to broil. Add another thin glaze of the honey bourbon mixture to thighs. Take turns placing each baking sheet under the broiler for 30 seconds or until the skin bubbles up and turns a dark caramel color.
  11. Remove from heat and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before eating.

Sneaky Mashed Sweet Potatoes:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, de-stemmed and cut into 2inch pieces
  • 1 white onion, medium-dice (1/2 inch)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup milk of choice (I recommend organic full-fat, coconut or unsweetened almond milk)
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken stock (I recommend organic, free-range if available)
  • Optional: fresh parsley for garnish

Sneaky Mashed Sweet Potatoes Procedure:

  1. Fill two pots with at least 4 quarts water and set to boil.
  2. Once boiling, add cauliflower to one pot and sweet potatoes to another.
  3. While vegetables are boil, heat a large sauté pan to medium heat and add olive oil.
  4. When oil is shimmering, add onion and sauté until translucent and fragrant, approximately 3-4 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Cauliflower will be done after 20 minutes. Sweet potatoes will be done after 35 minutes. Drain each into a large colander.
  6. Combine cauliflower and sweet potatoes in a large pot. Add sautéed onion, salt, milk and stock.  Use a ricer or an immersion blender to puree. Other options: Use a potato masher and you will have a chunkier texture. Empty into a food processor and process to puree.

To Assemble:

  1. FC Easter Recipe 3In a large serving dish, add sweet potato cauliflower mash and use a spatula to cover the dish evenly.
  2. Use tongs to add chicken thighs along the center. Optional: drizzle remaining honey bourbon mixture along the top.
  3. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

Laura Lea Bryant Nashville Food Writer CoachLaura Lea is a Certified Holistic chef, recipe developer and food writer based in her hometown of Nashville. Her company LL Balanced is at your service to provide easy, nutritious, family-friendly recipes that will make eating healthy a pleasure and restore balanced to your life.


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