November is here, and before settling into the traditional foods of the holiday season, now is a good time to try things a bit new. If you generally opt for chicken breasts because they are low in fat, maybe it’s time to try drumsticks or thighs. They are a little higher in fat than the breasts, but 60 percent of that fat is the healthier mono and polyunsaturated kind. And dark meat is so flavorful with extra moisture, and a great choice for a strongly spiced ethnic dish such as this:
TANDOORI CHICKEN THIGHS WITH LENTILS
4 large bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 tablespoon of chopped ginger root
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of curry powder
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
In a small bowl, stir together ginger, lemon juice, curry, garlic, salt, cinnamon and cayenne. Place chicken in a baking dish, flesh-side up; rub ginger-curry mixture over top of each piece. Bake in 400-degree oven for 40 minutes.
Serve the chicken thighs with lentils. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1 medium onion, chopped, and 3 cloves of garlic, chopped, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 cups of water, 1 cup of yellow lentils, 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger root, 1 teaspoon of curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; simmer, covered, over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 pound of red Swiss chard, cut into 1-inch slices, tough stems removed, and simmer 5 minutes.
This dish serves four.
Here are some more ideas for cooking on the “dark side”:
CHICKEN WITH GREEN CHILI SAUCE FOR TWO
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2/3 cup of cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of canned chopped green chilies
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of sour cream
1 cup of hot cooked rice
Sprinkle chicken with Cajun seasoning. In a large skillet, heat oil and brown chicken on both sides.
In small bowl, combine soup, water, chilies and lemon juice; stir into skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream. Serve with hot rice.
HONEY-MUSTARD CHICKEN WITH ROASTED NEW POTATOES
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of honey
1 minced shallot
1 tablespoon of minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 pound of small red potatoes, cut into halves
Olive oil cooking spray
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Combine mustard, honey, shallot and thyme in a small bowl. Spread over chicken, covering completely. Add potatoes to the pan and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 375-degree oven about 50 minutes, stirring potatoes once. Serves four.
KEY LIME CHICKEN THIGHS
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons of butter
2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
12-16 drops of hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon each of poultry seasoning and salt
1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
Place chicken in greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Dot with butter; sprinkle with lime juice and hot pepper sauce. Combine remaining ingredients; sprinkle evenly over chicken. Bake, uncovered, in 425-degree oven 30 minutes. Serves four.
SWEET SMOKY CHICKEN LEGS
2 medium onions, sliced
3 pounds of chicken legs
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of hickory smoked salt
1/2 cup of ketchup
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of vinegar
2 tablespoons of prepared mustard
Place onions in greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish; arrange chicken in a single layer over onions. Sprinkle with salt. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over all, completely coating chicken. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour, basting several times. Serves 4-6
MUSTARD DRUMSTICKS FOR TWO
2 tablespoons each of mayonnaise, vegetable oil and prepared mustard
1/2 cup of crushed butter-flavored crackers
1 teaspoon of chili powder
4 chicken legs
In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, oil and mustard. In a plastic bag, combine crackers and chili powder. Dip chicken legs in mustard mixture, then shake in crumbs. Place in a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in 400-degree oven 35-40 minutes.
Staying on the “dark side” of your chicken has other plus features—the dark meat contains the nutritional jackpot of considerably more iron and twice the zinc of white meat. And that extra fat also means it’s harder to ruin a chicken thigh recipe, even with quick, high-heat cooking.
HINT OF THE MONTH: Mix your own poultry seasoning and keep it in a small container in your RV kitchen—equal amounts of thyme, sage, marjoram and savory.
Marian Platt is a food writer who lives in Sequim, Washington.