In the era of the boneless skinless chicken breast people may have forgotten a cheap chicken cut that often is seen as just that cheap. The chicken drumstick. Who wants to deal with that skin and bone when you pay someone else to take care of it. In our household this is the most popular piece of bird. My daugthers will both chow down on chicken drumsticks, the one not touching the stuff any other way. For Sunday night’s dinner I was looking for a little inspiration to take this cheap cut and make it into something to talk about. The story doesn’t start at dinner time, let’s go back in time to when I brought these lovelys home.
What is Air Chilled Chicken?
Grass fed. Cage free. No antibiotics. You can find all these fun phrases plastering around meat counters at high end markets. Another one that is becoming more popular is air chilled. What does this mean and why should you care? When chickens are slaughtered, the typical method to bring the temperature down is a nice dunk in a bath of chlorinated water to hopefully kill any harmful bacteria. The problem with this method is that you add water to the bird. It’s like brining. Except normally when you do a brine you add some flavor as well. In this case, no flavor is added just water, thus actually diluting the flavor. Some places are instead opting to use an air chill method. The chicken is put into an air chamber where it is cooled rapidly. Thus no unnecessary bath for the chicken. You can purchase air chilled chicken nationally at Whole Foods Market.
In our family we don’t really like the skin, so I simply use brute strength and pull the skin back with my hands. Then the meat itself is ready to receive the seasonings directly.
The Rest of the Story
Back to Sunday. We wanted to eat outside. Nice weather and we love not having to mop the floor up after the kid’s spills. What is perfect for outdoors is a one dish meal. I don’t want to bringing out a main dish and all the sides. Just one big dish will save a lot of energy. So what to cook with the chicken? One look at my garden would reveal a nice crop of kale growing with some dill in the background. Then there is that bag of russet potatoes that are waiting to go green. A little online research help me put all the pieces together and come up with this dish – Roasted Chicken Drumsticks laying on a bed of kale, potatoes, and dill. The potatoes and dill are a great combination, ever had Potato Dill Bread?
Slice the Potatoes Thin
For the potatoes to cook in time I wanted them as thin as possible. My Oneida Mandolin Slicer was the tool for this job. It can get the potatoes thinner that I can with a knife. I placed my wafer thin potatoes in the bottom of a pan, threw on the dill to flavor them as well as the rest of the dish, toss in some kale leaves (stems removed please) and the chicken. 400 degrees and 40 to 45 minutes later (or until your probe thermometer says 180 degrees), dinner was ready to head out the door.
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 1 bunch kale (smaller the leaves the better)
- 4-5 sprigs of dill
- 5 medium Russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thin
- kosher salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste
- sprinkling of hot paprika (optional, but highly recommended)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Start by slicing the potatoes thin and laying them in the bottom of a large baking dish. Lay the dill, whole on top of the potatoes
- For the kale, removed the woody stems with a sharp knife. Just fold the kale in half and cut along the steam. Chop or tear the kale into pieces and place on top of the potatoes.
- Add the chicken drumsticks making sure they don't touch. Liberally season with kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and hot paprika.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature has reached 180 degrees and the juice run clear.
The kids loved the chicken, theirs didn’t have any hot paprika or black pepper on them. My wife loved the dill and potatoes. I loved only bringing one dish to the table. Everyone left the table full and happy!