Pina Colada Chicken is the result of a request from a friend who absolutely adores the tropical cocktail of the same name. Rum, pineapple, and coconut milk are the main ingredients in a pina colada cocktail, and they make a fabulous flavor combo for chicken. Don’t expect to get tipsy from this chicken. Only a minute measure of alcohol (almost immeasurable) remains in the finished dish due to the reduction step. Your taste buds will still be happy.
Pina Colada Chicken Recipe
Pina Colada Sauce:
1/3 cup minced sweet onion
2 jalapeno or serrano chile peppers, seeded and minced
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (see Notes)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Hungarian sweet paprika
1 Tablespoon (about) sesame seeds
10 maraschino cherries, cut in half, for garnish, optional
Drain and reserve the juice from the pineapple tidbits. Measure out 1/2 cup of the juice and set aside. Divide the pineapple tidbits evenly into two bowls.
Spray a 9- by 13-inch ceramic or glass casserole dish with vegetable spray. Cut the leg quarters in half at the joint. Lightly sprinkle both sides with poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Arrange the chicken pieces in one layer, skin-side up, in the casserole. Cover with half of the pineapple chunks.
In a large saucepan, saute the sweet onion and chiles in the butter until softened. Add rum and stir occasionally for about 2 minutes, until rum has reduced by half. Add coconut milk, reserved 1/2 cup pineapple juice from the can, half of the pineapple chunks, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. (Alternatively, pour the chunky sauce into a heavy-duty blender, cover, and puree, being careful with the hot liquid.) Taste and add salt, if needed. Remove sauce from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Ladle the pina colada sauce over the chicken in the casserole. Lightly dust chicken with sweet Hungarian paprika and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Garnish the hot chicken with the maraschino cherry halves. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
• Any leftover coconut milk from the can may be frozen. I suggest measuring it first, then pour into a zipper zip-top bag, squeeze out the air, and seal. Mark the bag with the measured amount so you know how much is in the bag.
• You may use all thighs or all drumsticks in this recipe, skinless or not. Chicken breasts may also be substituted. However, you will need to reduce the roasting time to 30 to 40 minutes, depending upon the size of the pieces. It’s important that you do not overcook chicken breasts or they become tough. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should reach 165 F.