Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Apple Maple Glazed Roasted Drumsticks: Seeing beyond a first impression.

First impressions make an impact on me.  I don't know if it is leftover from the days of teaching high school, where I met more than 150 students on the first day, but I remember first impressions.  Students would stream in, and by the end of a class, I would have mentally sorted students into categories- quiet, loud, rambunctious, studious, difficult, problematic, unknown, and learn more than half their names on the first day, simply based on the impressions.  Most of the time I was very close to the true nature of the student, but there were many times I was not.  People can be surprising many of the time, and first impressions shouldn't be the sole measure of judgement.

But I still do it.  I know I do it.  I try and stop it.  On the first day of Daughters' school, I'll scan the classroom, study the teacher, look at the parents, look at the students and immediately begin sorting in my head - nice mom, smart girl, mean mom, troubled son, uptight mom, nervous girl, friendly mom, friendly daughter.  I try and forget those first impressions because I can be wrong and it can prevent me from getting to know certain people based on the impressions.

And I, of course, have to take a step back and think about the first impressions I give people.  I dress in workout clothing most of the day, so perhaps many think of me as the woman who works out but still is rather roly-poly.  I sometimes don't look in the mirror after I get ready in the morning, so I may look unkempt.  Perhaps some may think of me as the woman who can't get it together.  I also tend to speak sternly to Daughters, so I'm sure I have the reputation of being the mean mom.  Daughter #1's teacher probably also has not such a favorable impression of me, since I reprimanded Daughter #1 recently for not knowing how to spell the word "learning."  Daughter's Teacher probably thinks of me as a super-aggressive helicopter mom.  First impressions, you see are very tricky.  Some portion of all those analyses are true to a certain extent, but there is more to me than what is seen in a first impression.

So I try to remind myself of this when I make my snap judgments based on first impressions.  There is always more behind what is immediately seen, and rarely is a person single-faceted that the can be categorized so quickly. 

Why am I writing about first impressions?  The same goes for food and cooking.  Quite a few readers have been making the Honey Soy Stir Fry Chicken  but not everyone has been getting it right.  Friend HKL called me saying she couldn't get the caramelization to happen, and I encouraged her to give it another whirl, and she did.  The second time, she got it to work.  And she LOVED it.  Thought it was so tasty.  If she hadn't gotten past the first impression, she would have missed out on a really spectacular dish.

I saw a chicken recipe in Nigella Lawson's cookbook, Nigella Express and knew immediately that I wanted to make it. Her version was a mix of ribs and chicken cooked together, and I adapted it to see how it would work.  I was, in short, not thrilled.  I couldn't get the results she promised and instead ended up with a watery sort of chicken instead of one that was beautifully glazed and glossy.  After making it last night, I thought that I'd just let the recipe go and forget about it.

But this morning, I thought about it again.  The chicken had pretty good flavor, just not with the end result Nigella had promised, so I thought I would try it again today.  I'd look past first impressions and give this chicken dish a second chance.

And I'm glad I did.  Today, I got it to do what it was supposed to do - glazed, sticky and beautifully golden and chesntut in color.  And the flavor was so good, it had Daughters and Son doing their crazy, "MORE CHICKEN" chant.  (Four of us polished off 10 drumsticks.  You do the math.)  It is super easy to make, but it requires a LOOONG time in the oven.  Nigella suggested 75 minutes, but mine didn't get to the result it wanted until closer to 100 minutes.  But the end result was so delicious and wonderful I'd do it again and make it an heartbeat.

I'm glad I could see beyond first impressions and get this beautiful second impression.
Apple Maple Glazed Roasted Drumsticks
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's, Nigella Express
Makes 10 drumsticks (serves about 4)

10 chicken drumsticks - about 1 3/4 lbs to 2 lbs
1/2 cup apple juice (unsweetened and more tart is better)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tabelspoons soy sauce
1 cinnamon stick
6 garlic cloves, peeled whole
2 inch long piece of ginger, cut into thin slices

Add apple juice, maple syrup, vegetable oil, soy sauce, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves and ginger pieces to a ziploc bag.  Mix it around.

Add chicken drumsticks.  Seal bag and squish everything around together. Refrigerate and marinate at least 3 hours.  (Can be left in marinade up to two days.) 

Take chicken out of refrigerator and preheat oven to 400 F.  In a heavily foil lined roasting pan (make sure you have several good solid layers of foil, because this will be hard to clean), lay chicken down in a single layer and pour all the marinade over. 

Bake in preheated oven for at least 90 minutes.  You want to see a reduction in the liquid and eventually it will begin bubbling and thickening.  Be patient.  It takes time to get this stage.  Once it does get to this stage, turn the chicken over and around coating all the sides to get the glaze all over it.  Remove from oven when you see a beautiful brown chestnut color and the chicken is all coated.

Serve! Tastes magnificent with Spicy Brussels Sprouts.

Printable recipe

The beautiful glaze just hugs the chicken


Fuat Gencal said...

Ne kadar besleyici, leziz ve iştah açıcı görünüyor. Ellerinize sağlık.


Sandi said...

Yum those look wonderful!!! I love glazes like that

Joudie's Mood Food said...

The colour on these is just divine! Wonderful glaze....

into my own said...

I love your blog. I love your recipes. I don't love the weight I've gained. I wanted to share this goodness I've found with others. Just posted a status on FB since I'm about to try this recipe. I copied your web address and then pasted into my status. Is this the right way to share your recipe?

Joanne Choi said...

yes...you can share on facebook that way...THANK YOU!

Becca said...

Can you make this with chicken wings? Will it yield the same results? Love your blog! :)

Joanne Choi said...

Becca - I'm about to do an experiment of this with chicken wings...I'm not sure as chicken wings cook faster and may not allow you to get to the glaze before they begin overcooking, which is why I wanted to play around with it. I generally like to cook chicken wings for a long while at around 375 but the maximum time I like to cook it for is about 45 minutes. I don't think the glaze will reduce down in that time.

Anonymous said...

I think your oven's 400 and my oven's 400 are different, since in my case, the marinade boiled over the foil and left me a nice crusty mess under it. The chicken still looks good (not as good as yours), so this might be one I make again and watch a lot more closely!

Joanne Choi said...

Anonymous - did you put it in a roasting pan? That would be key. A regular cookie sheet isn't going to be able to manage the liquid.

techosdecorativos said...

So, I do not actually believe it is likely to work.

Mouse said...

I made this today. I checked on the chicken after an hour in the oven, and found the wings surrounded by a layer of black, burnt glaze. The drumsticks were so done that they were falling off the bone. The meal was salvaged - the chicken itself was fine - but the glaze and its flavor were mostly lost. Even accounting for differences between ovens, that seems like an extreme variation in cooking times. Any ideas?

Joanne Choi said...

Without seeing your oven and actually seeing how you made the chicken, I only have a bunch of best guesses. Variations in cooking times can also be based on the racks of your oven. Did you kick the chicken in the center of your oven?

Do you, by chance, have a convection oven, which would cook the chicken about 30% faster than normal?

Was your pan much more spread out (a baking sheet instead of a roasting pan) so that the liquid had an easier time of evaporating?

I'm not exactly sure, but I'm very sorry that yours didn't turn out so wonderfully. :(

Mouse said...

The rack was low, so that may have been it. Also, I did use a cookie sheet, because that's what the picture looked like (always read carefully, derp!).

One thing I wondered about - I did cover the sheet in several layers of foil, as suggested, but since the sheet was wider than the foil, some of the glaze ran between the layers. This meant that there was even less glaze on top of the foil. I'm having trouble picturing a pan that could fit ten drumsticks, but still be covered in foil without any overlapping; so how do you prevent that from happening?

Also, don't feel bad on my account :) The chicken was moist, tender, and generally delicious. It was only the glaze that was burned. (And the garlic cloves roasted beautifully too!)


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