The Incredible, Edible Leg

August 10, 2010 | By | Comments (1)

GrilledDrumsticks When I was in college, I worked at this record store (OK, so
I’m old), and I would often get asked what my favorite album was. And I would
generally answer Joy Division’s Closer
(OK, so I’m an old, pretentious anglophile). And this was a belief I persisted
in until very recently when I was confronted by the cold, hard facts of the “Played”
column in my iTunes Library (this tracks the frequency that you listen to a
particular song). According to the data, Closer
isn’t even close to my favorite album. As it turns out, Creedence Clearwater
Revival’s Platinum is what I listen to the
most. This makes sense, as it’s one of my default choices when I have nothing
specific in mind, but I just want to jam some tunes. Similarly, ever since I’ve
cooked professionally, I’m often asked what my favorite food is. Veal
sweetbreads has been my stock response to this query, and like Closer, consumption of these
little morsels when conditions are right is a sublime experience to be savored.
Trouble is, as a working parent, the stars are rarely aligned (i.e. me and the
missus getting gussied up and dropping a few hundred bucks on dinner and a
babysitter) for sweetbread enjoyment

So I got to thinking about what my real favorite food (i.e. the one I cook and eat the
most) is, and I’m pretty sure that if there were a “Played” column on my dinner
table, grilled chicken drumsticks would be topping the charts. Now there are a
number of foods—pork tenderloin, shrimp, eggs–that deliver a healthy amount of
bang-for the-buck as far as ease of preparation to level of eating experience
goes, but the drumstick has a few unique things going for it. Much like CCR’s
swamp-blues-rock, there’s a back-to-basics satisfaction to eating grilled meats
in general, but drumsticks have the added bonus of being the original
meat-on-a-stick. Yes, you could argue ribs here, but the one-handed ease-of-use
factor pushes the drumstick over the top. Texting and driving? Major no-no. Texting
and eating a drumstick? That’s just multitasking (in fact, I’m eating one right
now). Sick of fighting with your 4-year-old about eating pasta with their
fingers? Get young Odin’s elbows up on the table and let ‘em have at a chicken


And between football practices, guitar lessons, and just
general child maintenance, on-the-fly dinners are a major part of our family’s
life. So not only is it’s ease of consumption working in it’s favor (it’s great
for standing or even walking meals), grilled chicken also belongs to the
pantheon of foods—along with pizza and brownies
which are equally delicious
served hot, cold, or anywhere in between. Now as busy as we stay during the
school year, sometimes the application of heat to food is an option that goes
right out the window, so a plateful of grilled chicken legs on hand in the
fridge is not only great for dinner, but it also makes afternoon snacks and
school lunches a breeze. And in the every-second-counts morning race against
the tardy bell, throwing a couple of these in a sandwich baggie takes even less
time than a PB&J. Oh, and you’re sending your precious angel(s) off to
school with a healthy, home-cooked meal, blah, blah, blah…


Marinated Grilled Chicken Legs And in these times of great economic uncertainty…OK, this
isn’t going to turn into one of those columns. Seriously, though, you can get
an absolute boatload of these suckers for cheap. Let kings and queens feast on
their expensive chicken breasts, I’ll take the quotidian majesty of a drumstick
any day. In fact, I never cook less than a dozen. You definitely don’t want to
run out before you’re ready. I generally fire up the grill on a Sunday night,
throw about 15-20 on, and that’s enough to get our family to about midweek. Honestly,
the picked meat of that last, lonely one on top of a simple salad on Wednesday
night makes a fantastic dinner.


Finally, as summer comes to a close (but tailgating season
is just around the corner), I’d also like to say that in its capacity as a
delicious, easy-to-eat, serve at any temperature, megacheap by the dozen, and
top-quality leftover foodstuff, drumsticks make the ultimate party food for
your next cookout. Just load up your grill with 20 or 30 or 40 (the sky’s the
limit, really), throw together some quick and easy dipping sauces (see below),
and you’ll have an international chicken buffet par excellence in no time. They’re a real crowd-pleaser much like
(trust me on this one) CCR instead of Joy Division on the stereo.
(Marinated Grilled Chicken Legs pictures here).

Notes on cooking: I just toss the drumsticks in a bowl with
some olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill them on high with the longer side
(the one with more skin) down for about 10 minutes to get the skin
crispy, and then turn them over, reduce the heat to medium, and let them go
with the lid closed 15-20 minutes to give them a good, slow roasting. You do
have to pay pretty close attention, as the grill will definitely flare up
occasionally with skin-on chicken.


Dipping sauces:
All of these are super easy and will keep in the fridge for
at least a week. Just whisk together the ingredients in whatever proportion you
see fit. They’re almost impossible to mess up. The only thing you might do is
get too much ginger in the Asian one, but I would just say that by the time you
get sick of grating it, you’ve got enough.

Sweet and sour: sweet chili sauce, rice wine vinegar, soy
sauce, sriracha, lime juice, scallions, grated ginger, minced garlic

Sunshine sauce: mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sriracha,
cider vinegar

Mexican: Mexican hot sauce, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice


BBQ: your favorite

For more easy, no-cook sauces, see 6 Simple Sauces
for Chicken


And check out this article on busting Nutrition Myths where we
explain how you can splurge with skin-on chicken from time to time.


  1. Mallory

    That sunshine sauce sounds really good!

    August 10, 2010 at 11:35 am

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