I’m a lover of lard and butter, and all those rich, delicious old-school traditional fats. So while I’ve nothing against fat, I do try to avoid frying foods at all costs. I can’t handle the mess, and the expense of wasted fats leaves me dizzy. I’m not one to complain about the cost of real food, but neither am I one to waste it. Instead, I rely on my oven (and skill) to yield the same results, and one of my family’s favorite foods is Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks.
I tuck the drumsticks away into picnic baskets, serving them with cole slaw, potato salad, or brine-pickled beets. I toss a few bottles of homemade root beer or water kefir into the basket, and we head on our way – to the park, to the creek or to the various open-air concerts that come together each summer in our little town in the mountains.
Brining for Tender Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks
The prolonged cooking required for oven-fried chicken drumsticks to acquire they’re crispy skin presents a potential problem: dried out meat. When I prepare drumsticks, I start first by brining the meat in a solution of salt, water and honey flavored by a single chile pepper. Brining helps to improve the the texture, flavor and moisture of many cuts of poultry, but pasture-raised poultry sees even greater benefits as it tends toward dryness.
Trick to Getting Crispy Skin on Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks
To keep the skin on your drumsticks from being soggy, remember to drain the brine very well, and pat the drumsticks thoroughly dry before baking them. Finally, crisp the skin with about 15 minutes in a very hot oven. Then serve.
Oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks
For the Brine
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 12 chicken drumsticks
- 1 dried guajillo chile pepper or other dried pepper
For the Breading
- 1 cup all-purpose einkorn flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Whisk 3 tablespoons sea salt and honey with about 2 quarts warm water to create a brine. Place chicken drumsticks into a large mixing bowl, cover with brine, and drop in a guajillo chile pepper. Cover, and transfer to the refrigerator where the chicken drumsticks should marinate for 4 hours. Drain off the brine, discard the chile, and pat the drumsticks dry.
- Heat the oven to 350 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk the flour with salt, nutritional yeast, thyme and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chicken drumsticks in the seasoned flour until well-coated, then arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutesr, turning once, then increase the oven temperature to 425 and continue baking a further 15 minutes.