Workhorse ingredients get a refresh in this honey-garlic chicken sheet-pan dinner

WORK WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT: Sheet Pan Honey-Garlic Chicken and Broccoli. Tom McCorkle/For The Washington Post

Confession: Sometimes, I open my refrigerator or look in my pantry, make a mental note of a few main ingredients and then do an internet search on those few items just to see what pops up.

Yes, I have excellent cookbooks, The Washington Post archives and favorite, trusted websites, but sometimes I enjoy casting a wider net.

On one such an evening, my search terms were chicken, broccoli and new potatoes. I knew that I was definitely not going to the grocery store, but wanted something fast and delicious that was new to me – even if the ingredients were culinary workhorses.

Most often, such broad searches end up giving me the germ of an idea that I then tweak and tweak to get the dish where I want it to be. On this evening, however, Chungah Rhee's recipe for Sheet Pan Honey-Garlic Chicken and Broccoli appeared, giving me not only a quick supper, but a new site to bookmark.

After I made it the first time, I went back to the site, digging a little deeper. I found dishes that reflected the food Rhee grew up eating, including Korean beef bulgogi and kimchi fried rice. Under the summer category, I discovered tasty sides, including grilled corn with cilantro lime butter, which I made this weekend, and an avocado potato salad, which I will make soon. (She even has dog food recipes because she has two, obviously spoiled, corgis.)

Rhee started Damn Delicious in 2011 as a hobby, using a Tumblr account. It grew from there and is now her full-time job, she said via email from her home in Los Angeles.

"I prefer to develop recipes that are not only quick and easy for the home cook, but also ones that incorporate ingredients that are easy to find so people don't have to visit two to three grocery stores/specialty shops," she said.

Trial-and-error testing

Like most of us, she uses trial-and-error testing and finds inspiration from other recipes. Also, she noted that she is "all about one-pan meals for the easiest clean up ever."

Even though it was delicious just as she directed, I couldn't help tinkering a little. Rhee made this entree with chicken breasts. I've now made it with both the breast and thighs and prefer the dark meat because I find them more flavorful and forgiving, as they remain juicer in a hot oven. One tip: For even cooking, make sure all the chicken pieces are close in size, even if that means halving some.

Next, I may try Rhee's suggestion of subbing in blanched green beans for the broccoli. I might give the dish a little heat by adding a dash of chile sauce or crushed red pepper flakes to the honey-garlic sauce.

If I make any other changes or substitutions, one thing I won't change is the final step, which calls for running that rimmed baking sheet of ingredients under the broiler for just a few minutes to give everything a little char and browning.

"They get so perfectly caramelized under the broiler and makes it almost too easy to eat your greens for the day," Rhee said.

She's right. It's a finishing touch that makes all the difference.


Sheet Pan Honey-Garlic Chicken and Broccoli

(Adapted from Damn Delicious.)

Active: 20 minutes | Total: 45 minutes

4 to 6 servings

The ingredients in this simple sheet-pan supper are tossed with a honey- and brown sugar-sweetened sauce that gets a touch of tang from Dijon mustard. The key to even cooking here is to ensure that the chicken pieces are roughly the same size. You can use any cut of the chicken, but if any of the breasts or thighs are larger than the others, cut them in half to ensure more uniform cooking time. Here, we use thighs, which are more moist and forgiving.

Storage notes: Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Ingredients

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to grease baking sheet

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 pound thin-skinned baby red potatoes, cut in half

5 cups (12 ounces) broccoli florets

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Steps

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Transfer it to plate and pat it dry. If any of the thighs are larger than the others, cut them in half to achieve fairly uniform pieces.

Place an oven rack in the center position and preheat to 400 degrees. Generously oil a large, rimmed baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the butter, honey, brown sugar, mustard, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes in a single layer on one side of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Place each potato sliced side down on the sheet. Add the chicken in a single layer to the other side of the baking sheet; brush the top and sides of each piece generously with the honey mixture.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of about 155 degrees.

Remove the sheet from the oven, add the broccoli and toss with the chicken and potatoes to coat with sauce. If the potatoes stick to the pan, use a thin spatula to loosen them. Turn the chicken pieces so the smooth side is up. Return the sheet to the oven and roast for an additional 10 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it has reached 165 degrees.

Turn the oven to broil. Carefully raise the rack to 5 or 6 inches from the broiler and return the baking sheet to the oven and broil for 2 to 4 minutes, checking after 2 minutes, or until everything is slightly charred.

Garnish with the parsley, if using, and serve.

Nutrition | Calories: 391; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 136 mg; Sodium: 285 mg; Carbohydrates: 27 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 12 g; Protein: 33 g.

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