Thursday, October 28, 2010

Honey-Mustard Roast Chicken

This recipe, and with it one of my fundamental tenets of thrifty cooking, had its genesis in a memorable meal my mom made when I was young. Not having much in the fridge, she ran out to the car and grabbed some of the plastic-encased condiments that were always stashed in the glove compartment. These proved to be honey-mustard packets from Chicken McNuggets, which were then still novel and advertised by the short-lived Birdie character (so I must have been about seven or eight…I mean, a fetus. Did I say seven or eight? Because I meant a fetus).

Anyhoo. Said packets were used to glaze roast chicken drumsticks, and Honey-Mustard Roast Chicken, a future staple of my cooking repertoire, was born…as was my belief that good recipes can come from small packets—and leftovers—so you should never throw out your take-out condiments.

  • Start with a package of chicken drumsticks (about 8) or whole (thigh + drumstick) legs (about 4). You can leave the skin on or try this trick for removing the skin while retaining some of its flavor/fat in the finished dish.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°.

  • Line a shallow roasting pan or metal baking sheet (don’t use a pristine one, it’s gonna get greasy up in here) with tinfoil. (If you're a total ecorexic and feel like spending four hours of your time scrubbing the pan is worth it to avoid that foil spending eternity in a landfill, feel free to skip the foil. I reduce, reuse, and recycle six ways till Sunday, but my laziness trumps my greeniness once in a while.)

  • Place a pat of butter in the pan, and put it in the oven for a few minutes, just until the butter melts. Tilt the pan to spread the butter around.

  • Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with coarse salt, ground pepper, and about a tablespoon of paprika (or use a spice rub of your liking).

  • Place the chicken in the pan, top side (i.e., the one that would be facing out were it still attached to the chicken) facing down. If you removed the skin, make sure the pan's bottom is well coated with butter and/or chicken fat; if not, add a bit more.

  • In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon of curry powder with about 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup Dijon or stone-ground mustard. (Alternatively, use fast-food honey-mustard packets from your glove compartment.)

  • After roasting the chicken 10-15 minutes, use a fork or tongs to flip the pieces. Be careful not to rip apart the chicken so it sticks to the foil; you can slide a spatula under it if necessary for easy release.

    Tip: I cannot recommend strongly enough using a silicone basting brush to baste—they are heat-proof and about a bajillion times easier to clean than old-school hair-bristle brushes, so you never have to worry about contaminating your melted chocolate with raw chicken, or getting stray brush hairs in your food.

  • Brush the now-on-top side of the chicken with some of your honey-mustard mix.

  • Return the pan to the oven. After another 10 minutes or so, flip the chicken again and baste this side with honey-mustard as well. After another 10 minutes, flip and baste again.

  • In total, these should cook about 30-45 minutes, with the thigh-on legs likely on the longer end of the spectrum than the drumsticks. You want them to get nicely roasty-browny-crispy.

    Along with being easy and cheap, this is a very flexible dish; you can experiment with different spices (cumin, coriander) and/or substitutions like agave syrup for the honey. Any leftovers will be yummy cold, or you can shred the meat into a chicken salad. Try it and I'm guessing it'll become a staple of your weeknight-family-meal repertoire. Birdie the Early Bird may be long lost to the annals of Gen-X pop culture nostalgia, but the legacy of those fateful sauce packets lives on.

  • 1 comment:

    1. love this post, but it kind of makes me sad, because it reminds me that my silicone basting brush has disappeared. i miss it. sniff sniff.