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I like to marinate my chicken with honey, orange and soy sauce. My problem is that when I pan fry, with a little olive oil, the pan gets black even before the chicken is done. Burning a little skin but the chicken inside is fine, except for a little hint/scent of burned.

One time I tried to hit the chicken in the pan when very hot, and after it looses it up a bit even throw some wine to bring the temperature down make some sauce. But didn't worked that much as I expected.

So, my question is how to properly make a chicken that is tender and full of flavour, not burn and that is properly cooked ? What am I doing wrong ?

  • Why don't you reduce the heat on your stove? It sounds like the amount of heat you're using is too high. – NRaf May 14 '15 at 1:30
  • It might be, this stove has some really high heat even in the lowest option. Even though I tried other time with lower temperatures and it seems that the honey really burns very easily. I am looking for suggestions abotu dealing with the honey also. – cassioscabral May 14 '15 at 2:26
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Honey will caramelize and burn before the chicken is fully cooked. It would be better to bake or roast the chicken in the oven at an even temperature, if you've marinated it prior to. Covered in foil at first and then finished off uncovered to add a little colour.

If you prefer to cook it in the pan, then adding the honey should be your last step. Turn off the stove element and drizzle the honey onto the chicken, the residual heat in the pan will take care of the rest. Chicken doesn't release enough fat to make a sauce out of it like you would with a pork or a duck (in reference to making a sauce with the wine).

I do this myself with chicken thighs (fattier than chicken breasts, so flavours tend to adhere better), honey, and paprika. Heat the oil in the pan, medium-low. Add sliced onions, sprinkle with salt to release the juices and gently cook until they're soft and caramelized. Rub paprika onto the chicken thighs and add them to the pan. Cook until the juices run clear. Turn off the heat, add the honey, mix it in and let it cool a bit before serving.

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Cook the chicken, and then brush with sugary things (honey, orange and soy sauce) just before cooking has finished, or after cooking

Sugary coatings will burn in a pan, and leave a bad taste

You can cook sugary coatings in the oven, but not at high temperatures, and the overall taste may not be too your liking

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After a passionate, yet interesting discussion in the comments, I decided to edit my comment.


Marinades: Actually, this is a broad term and sometimes is used to refer to marinades, rubs, coatings and glazes. A marinade should actually change the qualities of the piece you are preparing. A salty marinade (brine) will make the meat moister because of osmosis, an acidic marinated will "cook" the meat, and strong spices like garlic, paprika and many others will penetrate the meat, sometimes even dyeing the tissues deep to the centre of the cut.

A marinade will do its work BEFORE the meat is cooked so many times you can wash it away before putting the piece in the pan.

About your mix of soy sauce, orange and honey, I am not sure how much the aromas of the ingredients will penetrate the meat, and soy sauce is a kind of brine, but, mixed with the other ingredients maybe is not salty enough. So maybe, instead of using that mix as a marinade, you can just use it as a coating and "paint" the meat in the last moment. The result will be good for sure.

Something that you must keep in mind is that you don't want to burn a marinade (or rub or coating) because it will taste bad and also it will be unhealthy. That's why in some recipes, it is suggested to wash the meat before cooking. Also, your marinade has a lot of sugar, so it will burn easily.

Cooking at lower temperature, for instance in the oven as @sofos said, would prevent the marinade from burning. Adding water to the marinade, would also prevent it from burning in the pan, as the water will boil preventing the mix from reaching temperatures higher than 100°C.


What I use to do at home:

When I do marinades, I combine sweet products (orange juice, honey, sugar, mirin, pieces of fruit), salt (or soy sauce or miso), acidic products (lemon juice, vinegar), spices (rosemary, paprika, curry mix, pepper), oils (olive oil, sesame oil) and/or alcohol (wine, beer, cider, nihonshu). Obviously, not all at the same time! Some combinations work, others don't and you don't need to put one product of every group.

After letting the mix and the meat sit for a couple of hours, I take the pieces of meat out of the marinade and wash them. Then I put the meat in the pan and sear it at high heat and, after, I add the marinade and maybe a bit of water. I let it reduce and caramelize and, hopefully, I get a delicious dish!

This may not be an "orthodox" marinade: for instance, if you marinate in red wine, we would be talking more about a civet... but we are at home and we don't care about names, isn't it?

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    Marinades to do not significantly infuse into meat – TFD May 14 '15 at 3:18
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    TFD is right that it doesn't penetrate, but Daniel's right that it provides flavor - it's just that the flavor is basically confined to the surface. (Some things go deeper than others, though.) – Cascabel May 14 '15 at 3:39
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    For what it's worth, I agree that there was no need to downvote - fortunately an upvote provides much more reputation than a downvote takes away. – Cascabel May 14 '15 at 3:40
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    Of course I was not suggesting serving the raw marinade with the cooked chicken! Maybe I didn't explain myself well enough, because I thought everybody would understand, but what I meant is that, as the sauce and the chicken need a different amount of energy to be cooked, first he could cook the chicken at high temperature and then, cook BOTH with a temperature low enough so it will not burn the sauce but caramelize it (and also kill pathogens). – Daniel May 14 '15 at 4:16
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    Thank you, I learned a lot from your answer. I chose @sofos because it was more simple and objective. I never thought in wash the marinade off, was good to know =) The part about painting the meat, great idea, gonna try that next time. – cassioscabral May 17 '15 at 3:54

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