kitchen firsts: chicken drumsticks with hoisin glaze
I may have admitted before that as a child and young adult I always had a somewhat tense relationship with meat. I never abandoned meat entirely because of it (some things I just like too much), but encounters with gristly/bony/skin-covered/gelatinous/vein-containing meats occasionally left me teetering dangerously close to vegetarianism. My adolescent rule was always “don’t eat meat that looks like it came from an animal,” meaning that burgers, boneless skinless chicken breasts, and boneless pork chops were a-ok, but chicken or steak with bones or skin, dark meat of any kind, and ribs were all out (embarrassing admission no. 2: I’ve still never eaten ribs).
I realize that most people would argue that the list of kinds of meat I wouldn’t eat includes all of the best meats, and throughout my meat recovery program I’ve slowly started to agree. What’s more, my old policy is actually rather embarrassing now that I am trying for a more enlightened relationship with the meat I eat and the animals that produce it. But it’s hard to overcome years of self-brainwashing, so up until, well, now, drumsticks were one part of the chicken that I would avoid like the plague. While I’ve been assured that I’m wrong, they just look like they’re going to be stringy little slimeballs, and the idea of gnawing said meat off a bird’s leg bone is just not that appetizing to me. But, in the name of getting over my silly adolescent fears, and in the name of kitchen firsts, I decided it was high time to get over my aversion and make some drumsticks (read: Stephen made me).
Now this is the part where I would usually say “so I tried this kitchen first and guess what!! it was totally amazing and now I’m a total convert!”. But unfortunately, this particular time that would not be the whole truth. The important part of the truth is that this marinade/sauce is amazing and delicious. The chicken comes out moist, flavorful, and savory, and I can’t wait to slather this sauce on anything else that walks through my kitchen door (bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, chicken chunks destined for a stir-fry, turkey cutlets…maybe I’d even moisten a burger patty with it!) and to try it on the grill. But unfortunately there’s another part of the truth that I gotta lay down: I did not enjoy the drumsticks! I know, it’s sad. I was really hoping to! But for me, drumstick meat is just a little too gelatinous and sinewy, and I have a hard time enjoying the tasty sauce or even the moist and flavorful meat when I am feeling near-traumatized by having to rip slimy meat off a bone. Even sweet chili sauce, which complements the flavors of the chicken and is usually a cure-all for me could not really mask the slippery dark meat-ness of the leg.
I know I know, I fail at appreciating good meat. But at least I tried, and we got a damn good sauce out of the deal. And Stephen assures me that for all you normal people out there who love legs and thighs and all the good juicy and interesting bits of a chicken, these will make you happy. He finished the meal by chewing the cartilage off the bone of his fourth leg, and I think that’s a good sign.
Adapted from smittenkitchen.com, and hence from Food & Wine
Makes 6-8 drumsticks (or thighs, or breasts, or wings, or some combo!)
* If you want to prepare this chicken on the grill, check out the original Food & Wine recipe
6-8 chicken drumsticks (or mixed chicken pieces–basically you want somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 lbs of whatever chicken you care for)
3 T hoisin sauce
2 T vegetable oil
2 T water or soy sauce (if using soy, reduce your salt to a pinch)
1 T fish sauce (if you love it, the original recipe calls for twice this amount, but I like to go gentle with it)
2 T chopped parsley (go cilantro if you prefer)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
red pepper flakes, to taste
Arrange your chicken pieces in a shallow baking dish (I use an 8×8 square pyrex). In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, fish sauce, vegetable oil, hoisin, water, coriander, salt, and pepper (everything but the chicken!) with a whisk. Pour the mixture over the chicken and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, up to a few hours or even overnight.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees and the skin has crisped. Serve with sweet chili sauce.