Vietnamese Caramel Chicken — chicken thighs braised in a sweet and spicy caramel sauce with jalapeños, ginger and scallions. Serve it with steamed veggies and rice and it’s a perfect weeknight dinner.
I teach baking classes at a few different cooking schools around Cincinnati. When I wanted to start teaching, I proposed a pie class and a caramel class and we went from there. Somehow I stayed in the baking ‘niche’ and most of the classes I teach are focused on desserts.
At the end of each class, students fill out evaluations to tell me what they liked or disliked. The feedback is almost always good, but I still get nervous each time that they hand me a stack of evaluations. You just never know.
The most memorable comment I’ve received was on an evaluation of a caramel class. It simply said, “Too much sweet stuff!”
I was a little annoyed at first. This person did sign up for a caramel class and he/she knew what was on the menu. After thinking about it, I realized this person was right. Sugar overload is not fun (well, it is until you crash!) so I’ve realized that including a savory item improves the class for everyone. I try to start each class with soup or salad or find a way to tie a savory item into the theme of the class.
The next time I taught a caramel class, I added this Vietnamese caramel chicken to the menu. I thought it was a nice addition but didn’t expect it to compete with salted caramel sauce and Cuban flan. Surprisingly, it was the star of the class. Out of any recipe I’ve taught, I’ve had the most students email me and tell me they made this dish for their families.
It’s even a good weeknight recipe. It comes together quickly, only needs one pot, and is a great dinner with steamed rice and veggies.