No matter where you live or what your food budget, you’ve been affected by the sweeping rise in costs at the grocery stores. In the U.S., the basic increase is at about 10% over the last year — somewhat less for produce and somewhat more for meat. To make it through the check-out line without crying, folks have resorted to all sorts of strategies, many of which include reducing meat purchases much of the time. (I’m a constant store cart snooper and am both amazed and saddened by by what shoppers have resorted to in order to feed their families.) While I’ve got the cash to feed our small family of two plus doggies, I, too, have been forced to cut back or at least look at the best buys to keep us fed. Chicken is always a hugely popular dinner yet the ubiquitous boneless breasts many people (not me) have lived on are now sometimes simply out of sight. I did just hear their prices seem to be beginning to drop; thank goodness. What’s available for a song (Why is a song cheap?), however, are the drumstick portions of chicken legs and how wonderful, how easy, and how delectable they are. Chicken legs are not just for kids any longer!! I’ve got a few ways to show you to cook and serve them, including the simplest way, which is to only brown them stove top and finish them in the oven. Sure there are sauces or rubs and great sides like grilled corn or a filling vegetable salad (see above) and only you know exactly how YOU’d want to eat them.
The first thing about chicken legs (and here we’re talking about thighs and drumsticks together or separated–they are often interchangeable) is this: there’s little that can be done with a whole chicken or chicken breasts that can’t be done with chicken legs. (Ok, there’s Chicken Piccata and so on; I know you’ll need a breast there, but you can also bone it yourself.) That goes for chicken salad, chicken with rice casseroles, chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, chicken enchiladas, chicken soup, and on and on. Sure you might have to shred/chop a little more than with breasts, but you’ve also just saved…how much? The second thing about chicken legs is dark meat is tastier than white. Always. It has more fat, which makes it moister and easier to cook. Darned hard to overcook dark meat, too. It almost keeps getting better the more you cook it.
Your savings depend on where you buy your chicken. If you’ve purchased it at the traditional grocery store, you might see a price like the one below ($1.62 per pound marked down) for cage free legs. (Please, whoever runs the universe, let me eat chicken legs from chickens who got to run.) But should you hit COSTCO, you’ll find 99 cents a pound for plain legs (above) and $1.79 for seasoned legs. Think oil, crushed red pepper, and lots of garlic. For 80 cents, I think you can season your own legs. Your own drumsticks, I mean.
Most people acquainted with chicken shopping at COSTCO are aware of the inexpensive already-roasted chickens (speaking of incredible buys), but also of the humongous packages of pre-cooked and chopped chicken breast. Because that’s so popular with the high-protein diet crowd and the thighs go into COSTCO’s taco packages, that leaves Alyce’s much-loved drumsticks. What in the world are you going to find for 99 cents per pound but these gorgeous drumsticks?! Rhubarb is $8 a pound at my grocery store, for God’s sake.
Here are a few ideas for cooking them (see more under TIPS). Keep in mind you can nearly always sub bone-in chicken drumsticks for bone-in chicken thighs or even use a combination. Should you have a recipe for boneless chicken thighs, you probably can use bone-in drumsticks or bone-in thighs as long as you add a little extra cooking time.
If you’re interested in the basic recipe to get you started and I sure as heck hope you are, try this:
Mustard BBQ Chicken Legs
- 6 chicken legs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce from selfproclaimedfoodie.com. See link (below) on blog for recipe and my notes to cook briefly and add Tabasco.
- PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 F and set rack at center.
- HEAT OVEN-PROOF STOVE TOP GRILL or cast iron skillet over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- SEASON CHICKEN LEGS: In a medium bowl, toss chicken with oil until evenly covered. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper.
- ADD CHICKEN TO GRILL OR PAN and brown well on one side. Turn and brown well on the other side. Brush each leg on both sides with mustard sauce.
- PLACE GRILL OR PAN IN THE OVEN and cook another 20-30 minutes or until chicken is done through with no pink remaining and/or at 170+ degrees F.
- SERVE HOT, WARM, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE, OR COLD. Store leftovers well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Do not freeze.
MUSTARD SAUCE: Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce from Self Proclaimed Foodie. I heated all of the ingredients in a 2-quart sauce pan, added a good swig of Tabasco sauce, and let it simmer about 10 minutes before using. Many thanks to Self Proclaimed Foodie!!
More ideas for cooking chicken legs:
Baby Kale and Kluski Noodles with Chicken (More Time at the Table)
Want to use a dry rub for your chicken legs? Read up here: Dry-Rub Barbecue Chicken Recipe/ALLRECIPES
LIFE GOES ON:
below: Living in Colorado is always interesting. This little video was shot in our back yard the other day….
below: Granddaughter Piper, now 8, came to spend her birthday with us last week. Here she is grilling burgers and dogs with her Papa Dave in the rain. She is 5 feet tall!!
Thanks for keeping me company in the kitchens. As always, you’re inspirational!
What’s YOUR favorite piece of chicken? My mom liked to say, “I like the breast and all the rest.”
Happy late summer,