Chicken legs and thighs can make delicious and affordable dinnersWritten by Robert Holman | | email@example.com
Please don’t run. Please don’t fly away. Let’s open our eyes to the possibilities and come back to the bird with a renewed, fresh attitude.
I’m not talking white meat or wings, I want to look at the easiest to cook and most flavorful pieces of the bird — thighs and legs. With a little bit of TLC, these oft-neglected parts can be almost as healthy as white meat while adding a variety to your dinner options.
Generally, drumsticks can be found on sale for about a buck a pound. You are buying a lot of bone and skin so plan on two drumsticks for the recommend five-to-six-ounce serving. Consumers have become so attached to the boneless skinless breast that they may fear the drumstick as being too fatty.
But there is a solution: take off the skin. Skinless dark meat is has only about 25 percent more fat than white meat, and is much leaner than most cuts of pork or beef.
To take the skin off the leg, make a cut around the circumference of the leg about a quarter inch up from the small joint. Using your hands, and gloves if you like, peel the skin down from the big end to the cut you made. Then pull the skin inside out and over the small joint.
This takes some practice, but you will improve quickly. By the time you make it through about six legs, you’ll be a pro. Resist the urge to use a knife while pulling the skin back; the cuts you accidentally make in the meat will lead to disaster.
Buying boneless and skinless thighs is the best way to let somebody else provide the skinning elbow grease. They can be found on sale for about two bucks a pound.
I think the grill is the best method for cooking the dark meat. The smoke adds flavor and the open surface allows the fat to melt and burn off.
Start the drumsticks on high heat for about six minutes—turning once. Then reduce the heat to medium and cook covered for another 20 minutes—turning once or twice. Boneless and skinless thighs should be grilled over high for five to six minutes per side. Thighs are naturally juicier and more tender than breast which makes the dark meat easier to cook.
Since thighs can be bought ready to cook, and they cook so quickly, this cut is a great option for a quick meal to make after work.
The most common mistake grillers make is to add the sauce or baste too early. If the meat was seared well on the high heat, it will stay naturally juicy. Baste or sauce your meat during the last few minutes of cooking to avoid that nasty black char and burnt sugar taste you get when the sauce is added too early.
A baste is much thinner than a typical barbeque sauce. A baste should be brushed on liberally and often during the last five minutes of cooking while the sauce should just be brushed on once during the last couple of minutes of cooking.
Legs and thighs tips
* If grilled, 3 ounces of skinless breast has 141 calories and 3.1 grams of fat and three ounces of skinless thigh has 133 calories and 4.1 grams of fat.
* If you like tostada style tacos you can bake corn tortillas at 375 degrees for about three minutes per side. These are more healthy than the fried ones sold at the super market.
* Taco seasoning is mostly made of cumin, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.
* Thin, latex cooking gloves can be bought at GFS.
Legs and thighs recipes
Dark Amber Drumsticks
1 Tbs. olive olive
One half tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
One quarter tsp. black pepper
10 drumsticks skinned
One half cup coffee
One quarter cup molasses
One eighth tsp. salt
2 Tbs. cocoa powder (mail order from www.penzeys.com preferred)
Preheat grill on high for at least 10 minutes.
Mix first four ingredients in large bowl.
Add drumsticks to the bowl and rub mixture into chicken.
Grill drumsticks on one side for 4 minutes.
In the meantime, mix last four ingredients, this baste will be thin.
Turn chicken and cover. Reduce heat to low and grill 16 minutes. Turn once.
Remove cover and baste liberally and often for four to five minutes. Turn drumsticks a couple of times.