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Rhubarb Chicken

This savory, tart sauce pairs perfectly with chicken.

April 17, 2017

This year’s wet spring resulted in a bumper crop of rhubarb. We thought we’d try its fruit-vegetable identity crisis as part of a main dish. The result? A rich, tart sauce that pairs perfectly with chicken. It’s easy to make, but takes some time. You’ll need a heavy, oven-proof 12-inch skillet or a Dutch oven for this recipe.

Serves four to five people. 


  • 8–10 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely-grated, fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2-cup Marsala or sherry
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4-cup honey
  • juice of 1 medium-sized navel orange
  • 4 cups rhubarb (about 1 pound), cut into medium-sized diced pieces


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Trim excess fat from the thighs, and season skin side generously with salt and pepper.
  2. On the stove top, heat olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Once it gets up to temperature, add half the thighs to the pan, skin side down, and cook for 5 minutes. Skin should be golden brown.
  3. With tongs, turn and cook the other side for an additional 4 minutes. Remove thighs to a plate and cook remaining chicken, removing them to the same plate when done.
  4. Reduce burner to medium heat and spoon out all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan. Add shallots, ginger and cardamom. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until shallots turn translucent, no more than two minutes. Slowly pour in the Marsala, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir.
  5. Cook four minutes more; liquid should reduce by at least half.
  6. Add chicken stock, orange juice and honey to the pan and stir to combine. With tongs, dip chicken pieces in the liquid and return them to the pan, skin side up.
  7. Place pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  8. Sauce should be bubbling and chicken should be well-browned on top. Carefully remove pan from oven (remember, handle will he hot) and add chopped rhubarb, submerging it into the empty spaces between the chicken pieces.
  9. Return pot to oven and cook an additional 15 minutes, until rhubarb is tender.

Serve with mashed sweet potatoes (use extra sauce as a gravy) and cooked greens.

Cook’s Note: First time out, the sauce in this dish was watery, so we spooned out about a cup of liquid, whisked in a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch and stirred it back into the pan to thicken. The culprit? The chicken. Most chicken (including the bargain thighs we bought) is cooled in ice-cold chlorinated water, where they absorb some of the liquid. Air-chilled chicken (usually pricier and labeled as such) gives you more flavor, a crisper skin and less water in the pan. We’ll still buy bargain chicken, but next time we’ll be prepared. Our rhubarb is the old-fashioned green variety; Red would make the dish more attractive!