Behind the Scenes

The Life of a Plated Recipe: Chef Elana’s “Holiday Chicken”

Looking to learn more about your favorite Plated dishes and the chefs who designed, tested, and perfected them? You’re in the right place. In case this is your first taste, take a look back at a few other recipes we’ve explored in-depth, from Mini Carrot Cakes stuffed with homemade cream cheese frosting, to the recipe that seamlessly married our love of salmon and burgers.

This time, we’re taking a look behind a dish that’s near and dear to our Head Chef Elana’s heart. For Plated’s special Mother’s Day-themed menu, Elana digs into the family favorite that inspired her recipe for Braised Chicken, Apricots, and Currants.

The Inspiration

For Thanksgiving, Easter, or really any cause for celebration, Elana’s mother, Tamara, likes to cook a very specific chicken dish. As a child, Elana teased her mom for her near-predictable reliance on the same recipe, affectionately naming it “holiday chicken.” She admits that she couldn’t fully appreciate the flavors of the dish—not to mention the fact that it drastically simplified feeding a crowd—until she started cooking on her own.

“All jokes aside, it’s a really delicious dish, and the warmth and familiarity of it make it total comfort food to me,” Elana says. “When I smell it cooking in the oven, I feel like I’m at my mom’s house, waiting for family and friends to arrive. It’s super easy to prepare, but feels really impressive to serve. ”

In Tamara’s original dish, chicken is roasted in a saucy mix of orange juice, brown sugar, and dried apricots, creating a sticky-sweet sauce that infuses the meat with flavor while locking in moisture and keeping it extra-juicy in the oven.

The Familiar Twist

For the Plated menu, Elana opted for boneless, skin-on chicken breasts, which cook quickly for an easy weeknight dinner. There’s just a quick sear of the skin on the stovetop before the whole pan is transferred to the oven. For the sauce, we’ve used the juice of fresh oranges (rather than bottled OJ) to take advantage of the milder, sweeter flavor that comes straight from the fruit itself.

Throughout recipe testing, we focused on ensuring that the sauce never got so sugary that it overpowered the chicken’s golden skin, or clashed with the side of roasted spinach and potatoes. So, we’ve balanced the sweet fruit with white wine and thinly sliced shallot for a subtle tanginess. Dried currants and apricots, which simmer in the sauce around the chicken, take on a plump, perfectly soft but chewy texture—and dot the final plate like jewels. When the chicken is perfectly braised and ready to enjoy, we swirl a little butter into the sauce to make it delightfully silky.

Other than those small ingredient tweaks, according to Elana, this dish is “just like Mom used to make it!” We’re grateful to Tamara for handling the years of recipe testing ahead of time, making it that much easier for us to translate this dish into the perfect recipe you’ll be recreating at home. With just one pan and one baking sheet, you too can make any day feel like a holiday—even better if Mom’s there to enjoy it with you!

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