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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A fresh take on an old 'island' recipe

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Columnist

One of a number of oddball strategies I employed for paying the bills in college was living briefly (and, I hasten to add, platonically) with a houseful of guys. In return for free rent, I did all the cooking and cleaning.

A few years ago, I ran into one of my old housemates and invited him and his wife over for dinner. That night, as I was serving the entree, I intercepted one of those husband-to-wife looks that speaks volumes without words. When I asked what was up, he admitted that he had been sure I would re-create for them my Genesee Street company dish, so much a favorite with the guys that I had to double it whenever I made it.

"You know, the chicken thing," he said.

I looked blank. By then, I knew how to make at least 1,000 "chicken things."

"You served it on rice," he said.

No help there.

"With pineapple."

Light dawned. It was an old idea from, I believe, a Betty Crocker cookbook, predictably called Chicken Hawaiian because it involved a can of pineapple chunks: chicken pieces, onion, bell pepper and pineapple simmered in a sweet-sour glaze thickened with cornstarch.

The other day, a recipe reminiscent of that one came over the wire. And though I loathe the idea of calling something Hawaiian just because there's pineapple in it, I have to admit my interest was piqued. I wondered how I'd prepare this dish today. With fresh ingredients and a pan-roasting technique, I decided. Here it is.

Chicken Not So 'Hawaiian'

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-safe skillet. Place 4-6 skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces (breasts and/or thighs) in hot oil, skin side up. Sear chicken until golden brown; turn chicken pieces and brown other side. Remove chicken and drain off oil, leaving browned bits at bottom; place chicken back in pan. Combine 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root, 3 minced garlic cloves, 8 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice, 1/2 cup shoyu, 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons brown sugar (taste and correct balance of sweet to sour as needed). Scatter over chicken:

2 onions cut into eighths and 3 bell peppers (red, yellow, green) cut into chunks and 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks.

Pour ginger/pineapple mixture over all. Place all in a pre-heated 375-degree oven. Bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes. Whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot and 1/4 cup pineapple juice and stir into chicken mixture. Bake 15 minutes longer. Check doneness; serve over rice.