April 11, 2011

Gloriously garlicky chicken drumsticks

This past weekend was a crazy one, lots of baking, washing and cooking. I made two different types of brownies, mango cakes, gluten-free egg-free wacky cupcakes for my friend K's birthday tea, a gluten-free shortbread that did not turn out, another gluten-free egg-free cookie that was meh, and I also made the most gloriously garlicky oven-roasted chicken drumsticks.

Now I only have one photo for this recipe, but not because it looked ugly or anything. I just was pressed for time. I have also always wanted to take some adorable pictures of garlic to go with this post, but the mango cakes got in the way. However, please do not let the fact that only a single photo accompanies this post to deter you from trying this recipe. I highly recommend it, as it is make-ahead, and the garlicky gooey sauce you get after roasting the drumsticks is literally gold. You will scrap it up and use it for another recipe, your only regret being there weren't more of it.

So, to cut to the chase, this is a recipe that I adapted off of Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. It is from a recipe called "Not-my-grandma's Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Oregano." Now, Clark is a consummate chef and food writer, and she has a really great story that comes with this recipe. She makes you laugh and she makes you want to cook and eat. In fact, she makes you want to invite yourself over to her kitchen and stuff yourself silly. I doubled her recipe (her original serves two), ramped up the garlic, and executed a make-over on the preparation so it can be more hands-off for crazy busy days.

Now, before we get to the recipe, a few things about garlic. As we all know, it gives you stinky breath but is so good for you. You can find a ton of recipes online where garlic is used to cure almost everything. I like this page best, especially with the long list of those bad, bad things that garlic can kill or inhibit. And don't miss the author's recipe for a connoisseur’s garlic cocktail, it sounds absolutely alluring. Now, I feel I also need to point out two very important things about garlic. First, always remove the green shoots. I have come across discussion threads wherein this was heavily debated: to remove or not to remove? Some claims it makes no difference at all and a waste of time, while others beg to differ. I am in the "remove" camp.I have not really made any bad experiences with it, but my instinct tells me they ought to be removed. In fact, when I have time (who am I kidding here?) I always remove the shoots, even if they are not green. Something just tells me they are not to be included. And apparently, folks over at Cook's Illustrated had made a test cooking with the green shoots included and reported a bitter metallic taste aftertaste. 

On to some other things about garlic. Garlic contains many valuable phytochemicals with therapeutic effects. However it has been found that the anticancer phytochemicals do not stand up to heat: one minute in the microwave or 45 minutes in the oven (temperature not specified) resulted in complete loss of anti-cancer activities (summary to this research is here). But what is interesting is, when crushed garlic is allowed to stand for 10 minutes prior to heat treatment, some of the anti-cancer activity was retained. I remember being told some years ago by a foodie friend that is is best to mince the garlic and let them stand for about 10 minutes before using to allow crucial compounds to develop, and I guess this was what she meant. And there is a whole body of (mind-boggling) literature out there about how best to attain all the valuable components of garlic, since some of these compounds are oil-soluble, and some water-soluble. In other words, bake it, steam it, use in stir-fry, use it in soup, use it raw, let it air out some, variety is the key.

And now, without further ado, the stinkin' good recipe. I have adapted it such that the garlic paste can be made in a small (5-cup) food processor. You can of course use your good ol' mortar and pestle. It may seem to be a lot of paste but like I mentioned before, you will feel you did not have enough of the cooked garlicky mess after the oven roasting. And if you sometimes buy the ready-peeled garlic cloves (as I do!), the approximately 20 cloves of garlic in this recipe weighs in at about 3 ounces (once I felt I just had to weigh them!).

Oven-roasted garlicky drumsticks
Gloriously garlicky chicken drumsticks
 with thanks to Melissa Clark for recipe inspiration
  • 10 chicken drumsticks 
  •  3 tsp sea-salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • rice bran oil
  • 20 large cloves of garlic, about 3 oz
  • freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • a handful of fresh thyme
  1. Rinse chicken drumsticks and pat dry. Place drumsticks in large ziploc bag or a large bowl.
  2. Transfer garlic paste to a small bowl, and stir in the dried oregano.
  3. Scrap garlic mixture into ziploc bag (or bowl), throw in the sticks of fresh thyme (I do not bother to remove the leaves from the stems) and squeeze the juice of the two lemons right into ziploc bag (or bowl). Close the bag well and then massage the heavenly paste into the drumsticks, distributing the paste and wiping your drool. (If you prefer the bowl, just get in there with your clean hands and smear the paste all over the drumsticks, then cover bowl well and refrigerate.) Refrigerate the bag until ready to use. (If you do this in the morning, like I do, try to massage the drumsticks, or turn them around every time you open the fridge.)
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450F. Remove drumsticks and place on a baking pan. Remember to scrap out all the garlic paste into the pan. Sprinkle with more black pepper if desired. Drizzle with a little rice bran oil (or if you have to use olive oil, I suggest mixing it with rice bran oil to raise the smoking point).
  5. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove pan and with tongs flip the drumsticks over. I like to tilt up one end of the pan so the garlicky juice flows to one corner so I can dip the drumsticks in that golden goodness. Lower oven heat to 400F and continue to roast about another 15 minutes more, until browned and golden.
  6. Enjoy, and after dinner scoop up that garlicky goodness at the bottom of the pan and keep it in a sealed glass container. You can use it for many things. You can toss it with rice noodles and serve with a crunchy salad. Once I stir-fried pea shoots with it and it was totally scrumptious. I am thinking you can steam spinach and then toss it with this garlicky oil. Oh, and once we even dipped our toasted sourdough bread in this garlicky mess, and boy, that was good too!
I am thinking this could work with a baked tofu recipe as well, but probably not with as much garlic! It may even work with potatoes, but I have a skillet-roasted potato recipes that is also pretty hands-off and involves garlic, but that would be another post for another day!

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