Growing up we ate a lot of teriyaki chicken. I’d say I was partly to blame for this phenomenon. I loved teriyaki chicken. Nevermind that we’d already had it earlier in the week, when it showed up for dinner again, it was an exciting occasion. On Saturday mornings while grocery shopping with my dad I’d happily grab a bottle teriyaki marinade off the shelf, regardless of whether it was on the list. More marinade just meant more teriyaki chicken, right? It was a beautiful thing right up until the minute I hated teriyaki chicken and never wanted to eat it again.
I had a bad habit of doing this too-much-of-a-good-thing as a teenager too. I took a tomato and pickle sandwich (with mayo) to school almost everyday in high school and now the thought of one is still a little repulsive. I also listened to the soundtrack from Rent over the course of a 20 hour flight. I still know all the words even though I haven’t listened to the music in over a decade – although I did go see the movie version which was both painful and kind of nostalgically wonderful. But recently I starting getting into teriyaki chicken again, only not the kind that comes with a bottle.
Let’s be clear – I have nothing against bottled marinade as a category. But when the craving for teriyaki chicken started I was woefully unprepared. I mean, I’d hated the stuff for years and hadn’t planned on going back to it. And then I discovered that teriyaki marinade is basically two ingredients, ingredients that I almost always have in the pantry. How could I go back to buying pre-made marinade when I knew all the ingredients were already in my house?
I’m not saying I’ll go back to my multiple times a week chicken teriyaki habit (and sorry Mom, for spilling the beans that you indulged me for so long), but its managed to work its way back into my heart, and into my dinner rotation. As for those tomato and pickle sandwiches, I think we’re through for good.
Makes enough for 4
1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 6 pieces, or 3-4 lbs of chicken breasts or thighs (or a combination)*
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin (you can substitute sherry here, which I sometimes do; they’re both sweetened cooking wine)
1 tbs honey
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 inch piece of ginger, cut into 1/4 inch or thinner slices (no need to peel it)
1/4 cup orange juice (optional)**
In a large container, or a ziploc bag, combine the soy sauce, mirin, honey, garlic, ginger, and orange juice (if using). Sprinkle the teaspoon of salt over the chicken pieces and then add them to the marinade. Cover the container or close the bag and place in the marinating chicken into the fridge for at least 8 hours and no more than two days to soak up the flavor.
When you’re ready to cook preheat a grill to medium or set the oven for 450F. If using the oven, put the chicken onto a rack set over a foiled lined sheet so air can circulate all around it while it cooks. When the grill or oven is preheated, cook the chicken until any dark meat is 165F and white meat is 140F. This may mean taking different parts out at different times. In the oven it should take about 20-25 minutes for white meat and 30-40 minutes for dark meat. On the grill it should take 15-20 minutes for white meat and 25-30 for dark meat. Be sure to turn the pieces often on the grill so avoid burning. The marinade is sweet which means it’s more likely to burn a bit on a hot grill – as you can see in the pictures. Still delicious, just not as pretty.
You can eat the chicken immediately or eat it as leftovers for up to a week, cold, hot, or just warmed up a bit. If I’m feeling extra productive I may boil the marinade down into a salty-sweet sauce to put over rice or vegetables too, but that’s just a bonus.
*Call me a snob but I prefer dark meat to light and bone-in skin-on meat, especially for roasting like in this recipe. But when you make it at home, make it the way you like.
**If I have a fresh orange, I’ll squeeze it in here but if I don’t then I leave it out. It’s delicious either way.