I was swamped! These past couple of weeks, I found myself at the bottleneck of the semester — can’t live, can’t die kind of a time. Me? Workaholic? Hehe, yea, kinda. Everything’s got to be just so. My international students mean a lot to me. So here I am like Arney, the Terminator. It feels great to be back and waffle away in my blog to get some much needed pent-up steam out off my system.
Now that I’m exhaling steam, I need a little fire. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without good ol’ chicken. Just throw some seasonings, and the legs are good to go anytime into any traditional cookware: Wok, karahi, oven, fryer, steamer, Weber, grill, griddle, you name it. Working here in the Great Plains, I prefer to head home and cook every single day. Only when push comes to shove (grading, meetings, school trips, conferences), Mr. Chi-Town and I head to the nearest diner on Route 66. Here, they serve a good grilled jalapéno chicken dinner salad. Remind me to take a pic of this salad sometime and share it with you on one of my posts. For a salad here in the Great Plains, it’s pretty darn good.
Yes, I grilled some chicken legs this afternoon. This is the final product. It unexpectedly turned out to be scrumptious, so I thought I might as well share it with you.
Looks yummy, doesn’t it?
Usually, Tee’s tandoori chicken is my go-to recipe. But this time for some reason, my late Tiger Mom’s fried chicken recipe came to my mind. God knows how long ago I wolfed down her spicy, crispy, fried chicken drumsticks. I vividly remember how she’d make this dish on Deepavali day when all my uncles and aunts would congregate at out home to savor her great cooking all day all night long. Seasoned with a few spices, she’d whip up this fried chicken in a flash. The main ingredient in her recipe (believe it or not) was guess what? The mighty little fennel seeds. For your information, these fennel seeds impart a nice anise-y flavor. Plus, they are great detoxifiers. Sprinkle some in your ginger tea or any tea, and it “fixes” your tummy (so says Daughter #1). Tiger Mom never believed in buying ground spices. Instead, she preferred to grind the spices herself. She would make me grind some in a mortar and pestle until it’s “just right”. With Tiger Mom, everything had to be just so. Like her, I grind my own spices. They really taste so much better that way.Here’s my fennel seeds being prepped. Tiger Mom would approve. It smells so anise-y. I love my mortar and pestle, too. It’s very Malaysian to me. I hope my daughters and their children will continue to keep up with my mom’s ritual.
In my recipe, I’m not going to deep-fry the chicken (I’m not crazy about fried stuff these days like I once was); I’m going to grill it in the oven. Make my life easy. Most of all, this is the very first time I’m making this particular grilled chicken. Hence, I’m going to tweak mom’s recipe just a wee bit.
A non-stick aluminum foil works great on the roasting tray.
Like any recipe, feel free to put your own twist to suit your palate. And surprise, surprise — I’m going to add some panko. It’s not meant to coat the chicken but instead, act as a delicious flavor carrier. In other words, I’m redefining the use of panko. Am I a panko genius or what?
No time to wait. Mix it all up. Even the panko goes in. As it cooks, the panko bits will crisp up naturally in the oven. They add an interesting and remarkable dimension and flavor. You have to try this recipe to see what I mean.
For this no-halo-effect, Nostalgic Ride Grilled Chicken recipe. Mr. Chi-Town gave it 5 stars, folks. That means something, right?
- 4 chicken legs – I used Bell & Evans chicken legs that have been skinned, the fats removed, and pat dried with a paper towel. Make a couple of slits on each leg for the marinade to permeate the chicken.
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- I tablespoon of ground fennel seeds — finely ground (you may use pre-packed ground fennel seeds sold in Indian grocery stores — make your life easy if need be)
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (I used Simply Organic brand. It’s got a brilliant deep red color, has a subtle sweet, smokey flavor, and was voted the best tasting smoked paprika by America’s Test Kitchen a couple of weeks ago!)
- 2 teaspoons of Kashmiri chili powder, jalapéno powder, or cayenne powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoonful garlic salt
- 1 teaspoonful onion powder
- 2 tablespoons of ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons of panko (I used Kikkoman brand)
- 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil or organic clarified butter (ghee)
- 3 strands of cilantro — minced
- Lemon wedges
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Layer the non-stick aluminum foil on a roasting tray.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the chicken legs with all the ingredients.
- Rub and press the seasonings, spices, and panko well into the chicken legs.
- Place chicken legs on the roasting tray and bake for about 30-40 minutes.
- Set the broiler on high. Broil the chicken legs for 5-8 minutes on each side.
- Remove chicken from the broiler. Sprinkle minced cilantro on the chicken legs.
- Serve grilled chicken legs right away with lemon wedges.
There are more than 3 reasons why this beautifully caramelized Nostalgic Ride Grilled Chicken Legs is a must try. Why?
It’s spicy. It’s savory. And it has a nice smoky flavor. See those lovely crispy bits of panko on the chicken? Believe it or not, it gives a “crispy skin” effect to the point you won’t miss fried chicken at all. It’s that good! In fact, Mr. Chi-Town has already made a special request for this grilled chicken dish. Knowing him, I won’t be surprised if he insists on grilling the chicken over the charcoal on a nice summer weekend.
The special ingredient in this recipe is no doubt the ground fennel seeds. Let’s give panko some credit, too. Good ol’ turmeric adds an extra dose of savoriness, and do I have to even say *healthy*? Adding a squeeze of lemon juice and minced cilantro prior to serving add another layer of color, bold citrusy flavor, and freshness. What more can I ask for in a homemade dinner after a long day at work?
Today’s recipe, The Great American Road Grilled Chicken Legs, is all about touching base with my roots. The marriage of fennel and panko make this chicken dish wild. When curiosity kills Tee, she’s is all about leaving no stones unturned. Last but not least, I wonder what tiger mom would think if she were to taste this dish. Would she be partial to “panko”? Will she let out a “growl” of approval? I hope she’d say “It tastes just right.”
Hope this post finds you in the best of health and spirits. It’s so good to see you here again! 🙂