I had found three really tasty looking options on da Google for something new to try with chicken legs – all, not too, too sruprisingly, from some of the nice folk at Food Network. In the end, it was this nearly empty bottle of balsamic vinegar sitting in my vinegar-and-oil corner that convinced me to save the cherry barbeque drumsticks and the lemon-pepper chicken for another day in deference to this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis which called for a marinade and sauce based on the condiment.
I say nearly empty, when in fact there were a good two cups left in the bottle, and Giada’s recipe only called for 1/2 cup. No worries! – I’d been meaning to play around with balsamic reductions anyway, and this seemed as good a time as any – I poured the vinegar into a pan and brought it to a boil, then lowered the flame and simmered it while I got the stuff together and chopped to make a fresh batch of giardiniera. After thirty minutes or so, I had a lovely, concentrated, 1/2 cup of vinegar as the base for my marinade and sauce.
•1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
•1/2 cup honey
•1/2 cup brown sugar
•1/4 cup soy sauce
•5 sprigs of rosemary
•5 garlic cloves, halved – I diced mine
•10 to 12 chicken drumsticks (I used 6)
•2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds – you NEED these in this recipe, and I found a cool way to toast ’em in the ‘wave – see below
•1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
•I also added some freshly chopped chives from teh garden
Stir the balsamic vinegar (cooled, if you’ve done the whole reduction thing) together with the honey, soy sauce, and brown sugar, then add the garlic and the rosemary sprigs. Pour the marinade over your chicken legs in a zipper bag, squish it all around, and toss the bag into the fridge – in a rimmed plate to catch any possible drips – for two hours, flipping the bag when you think of it.
Preheat the oven to 450º and line a rimmed baking pan with foil.
Pull the chicken out of the marinade and arrange on the baking pan, then pour the marinade from the bag and into a small sauce pan – I know the rule about not using anything you’ve had meat – especially chicken – sitting in, but Giada assures me (and I am assuming the nice legal folk at Food Network have signed off) that the good, long boiling we are about to subject it to will be more than enough to make it safe to eat.
Bring the marinade to a boil, then simmer for fifteen minutes (I went for a good thirty), until the bad stuff is killed off and your now sauce is thickened a bit.
While the chicken was finishing, I had some basmati rice in the cooker with a bit of butter and some herbs and thought it high time to toast those sesame seeds. Measure them out in a bowl, add a little cooking spray, then ‘wave ’em for three to four minutes – voila! – nicely toasted sesame seeds!
Meanwhile, bake the chicken for thirty to thirty-five minutes, until the skin is caramelized and quite dark in spots. I pulled my chicken out after fifteen minutes, turned it over, sprinkled it with those chopped fresh chives, and then returned it to the oven for another fifteen to twenty minutes.
So, to review:
Chicken is baked, sauce is boiled, reduced, and now safe to eat, rice is cooked and sesames are well and truly toasted – sounds like dinner time to me!
Arrange your cooked rice on a platter and top with the chicken legs. Brush the legs with the sauce and then sprinkle with the chopped parsley and toasted sesame seeds.
This recipe is really kinda close to the contessa’s for Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and I think next time I am thinking of making either recipe, I’ll combine the two – eliminating the brown sugar from this recipe and adding the fresh ginger from the other – then continuing on with the sesame toasting and parsley chopping and marinade boiling.
A wee, tiny bit o’ crushed red pepper might could be a good thing, too…