Cooking On The Cheap: Sassy Drumsticks

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December 9, 2009 by skwishface

I have quite a few recipes that I would deem “sassy”. If I could think of another word for the delightful combination of sweet/tangy/spicy, I’d use it. But, alas, I cannot.

Budget cooking is about planning ahead. I wanted to cook up a mess o’ something, the leftovers from which could be re-purposed to feed us throughout the week. Something versatile enough to not get boring or repetitive. Oh, and it had to make my tastebuds dance and sing. Also required – cheapness.

I don’t ask for much.

Enter, the Sassy Drumsticks. They are cheap! They are succulent! They are a fiesta of flavor! They are the wind beneath my wings!

Sassy Drumsticks (cost: about $6, prep time: 5-10 minutes, cook time: 35-45 minutes)
10+ chicken legs
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp fresh habanero pepper, minced fine (or more, to taste)
salt/pepper to taste

(for a printable version of this recipe, go here)

I suppose you could use white meat for this, but … but … (how can I say this without making myself giggle like a schoolgirl?) I prefer dark meat. (teehee! ye gods, it’s like I’m twelve)

Not only is dark meat more tender and juicy (teehee!), but it’s cheaper and you can buy it in bulk fairly easily (tee- oh stop it). Observe …

That's 10 drumsticks for less than 5 1/2 bucks. Score!

Raw chicken kinda ooks me out, so I understand if you have to look away from the screen while scrolling through this next picture.

Rinse your drumsticks, pat them dry, load them in a baking dish, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Bleh!

It’s okay if they’re packed in there pretty cozily. You want a little space between them, but they will shrink up a bit as they cook so don’t fret about it.

Pop ’em in a 375-degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

While they’re roasting, consider your pepper. Very. Carefully.

Yeah, I used gloves. Cuz my momma didn't raise no fool.

That, dear friends, is a habanero pepper. It is wee and orange and lumpy. Utterly non-threatening. But I happen to know that this pepper was grown in the organic garden of a coworker who prides himself on the heat of his peppers. I am proceeding with extreme caution.

Please, if you’re going to use a fresh habanero (and I truly recommend that you do), either wear gloves or use a fork and knife while chopping. Do not ever … ever … touch the guts of this pepper with your bare hands. It won’t kill you, but if you get some in your eye that’s precisely what you’ll think is happening. Even if you’re super careful not to rub your eyes, your poor fingertips will itch and burn for hours, if not days. If you do foolishly allow the insides of this beast to meet your flesh, rinse with milk. It’s the only readily available substance that’ll dislodge the capsaicin of the pepper from your tortured skin cells.

Now that we’re all good and frightened, mince up your pepper. Mince it fine. For real. You’re about to drop these bits of pepper into a glaze for your chicken, and nobody sane wants to encounter a big chunk of habanero on their drumstick.

I only used a bit less than half of that wee pepper, and the glaze was plenty hot for the tastebuds in my house. Use however much you like, but add gradually and taste as you go. Remember: you can always had more spicy, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there.

Ponder, now, the base for this glaze.

Preserves gazes at you coyly while habanero lurks menacingly in the background.

I’ve gotten alot of mileage out of this one jar of apricot preserves. I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. A little bit tangy, and little bit naughty. Just like I likes ’em.

Toss your apricot preserves, water, and habanero into a small pot. Simmer till it’s all runny and let it reduce a bit. Completely neglect to photograph this step. Kick self.

Once time is up on your chicken, they’re not quite cooked all the way. That’s cool. They’re going back in the oven. Right after they get a thick coating of SASS.

Lean in close to the screen, you can hear them talking back and skipping class.

Brush the glaze all over the drumsticks. Use the whole pot. It doesn’t need to be super-thick, but you definitely want all the exposed bits covered in spicy fruity goodness.

Toss them back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. You’ll know the meat is done cooking when it starts to pull away from the bone. You’ll know the glaze is done when it looks like this …

FYI - your kitchen smells awesome right about now.

The glaze cooks up slightly sticky with the occasional crunchy bit where the sugar gave up and caramelized. The habanero gives the whole works a luscious slow burn. The chicken skin is like crispy candy, if you’re into that kind of thing. And I am. Oh … I am. And the meat? Moist and tender in that effortless way that dark meat has that white meat just can’t match (teehee!).

What to do with all this delicious chicken? Well, that night, I paired it with steamed broccoli and pan-fried tatercakes.

Tatercakes recipe coming soon!

This recipe is great for feeding a crowd all at once, or hacking up for leftovers like I did. I recommend letting the drumsticks cool, and then just pulling the meat off the bone and packing that up into the fridge. Refrigerating the drumsticks whole and then trying to deconstruct them later is a fool’s errand. Cold greasy fingers, much?

As for the leftovers, I turned them into Gramma Ford’s Chicken Noodles and quesadillas. There’s still some sitting in my freezer, just waiting to become tortilla soup. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s one recipe stretched four ways.

I’m pretty sure that means I win.

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