Fun fact: Next to Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl is the second biggest food holiday. When it comes to the Super Bowl some foods are just traditional, like Buffalo chicken wings. But I’m going to be bold and suggest we ditch the chicken wings this year and swap in chicken legs. What?
Stay with me. Who wants to nibble on a chicken wing when they can take a big juicy bite out of a chicken drumstick? Also, chicken legs are significantly less expensive than wings and the ratio of meat versus bone is way in your favor.
I hope you’re convinced because here we go. I’ll start with awesome, crispy oven-baked chicken legs. The secret is coating the chicken with cornstarch, which results in crispy skin without breading or frying. The cornstarch also helps the sauce to adhere.
From here you must pick a team, Team Naked or Team Slather. You can serve the chicken legs “naked” and offer a variety of sauces for dipping. This is so much fun. The purists can have unadorned delicious legs, while everyone else is gets to try out sauces or plunge head first into their favorite.
Or you can choose to slather the legs in your favorite sauce and stick them back in the oven to broil so they’re sweet, spicy, sticky and crunchy. They’re all the delectable things.
Whether your football team wins or not, your chicken legs are a sure winner. Two truths I know for sure: People love football and people love fun, festive food.
CRISPY CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS
One typical max-pack of chicken legs weighs 4-5 pounds and yields 10 to 12 drumsticks. Estimate one or two per person as an appetizer or four per person as a main dish.
What you’ll need:
4-5 pounds of chicken drumsticks
Salt and pepper
¼ cup cornstarch
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and top it with a wire rack to keep the chicken up off the baking sheet. For easy cleaning, spray the racks with cooking spray.
Using paper towels, dry each chicken leg and place in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cornstarch over top and stir or toss until the drumsticks are evenly coated in cornstarch. Place the coated chicken legs on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, until they reach 175 F and the surface is golden brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, prepare a sauce (or sauces) from the recipes below while the chicken bakes.
When the chicken is done, let it rest for about 10 minutes before placing it onto a platter and serving. If you’re saucing all the legs, pour the sauce into a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken pieces. Toss the drumsticks in the sauce until well coated. Use your hands. It’s the most wonderful kind of messy.
As an option to make saucy legs even better, place them on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes, which gives the sauce a chance to get all caramelized, glazed and stickier. That’s totally optional.
EASY SAUCES FOR DRUMSTICKS
Spicy Buffalo sauce: In a small saucepan melt ⅓ cup butter and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add ⅓ cup hot wing sauce (like Frank’s) and stir. Due to the heat, this is lovely served with some blue cheese or ranch dipping sauce to cool your faces off.
Garlic Parmesan sauce:In a small saucepan melt together ⅓ cup melted butter, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving. This is divine served with a Caesar salad.
Brown sugar Sriracha sauce: In a small saucepan over low heat combine ⅓ cup butter, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and ⅓ cup Sriracha. Heat, stirring until the butter is melted and the sauce is smooth. This is wonderful with a squeeze of lime. You may wish to serve this with some sour cream or ranch dressing to offset some of the heat. Caution: This is spicy.
Honey barbecue sauce:In a small saucepan melt together 2 tablespoons butter, ½ cup of your favorite prepared barbecue sauce, 2 tablespoons honey and 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (add a couple more dashes if you like heat). Set aside. This is especially awesome when you broil the chicken with the sauce on. Serve with napkins, celery, carrot sticks and/or a mountain of french fries.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org.