Today’s creation is one of those recipes that sounds kinda weird, but somehow ends up being totally awesome. Boy wanted grilled chicken for dinner and I was happy to oblige. If you like grilled or roasted chicken, a juicy drumstick is most probably your favorite cut of meat. And so is the case at our home.
Whenever you throw it on the grill or bake it in the oven, do not underestimate the power of a good marinade to take meat from mediocre to lip-smacking delicious. It helps tenderize the meat, adds flavor, keeps it from drying out and the sugars in certain marinades helps crisp the outer skin as well.
I love a good tandoori spiced baked chicken. But once in a while, I like to mix things up and come up with something different. Depending on the marinade ingredients and flavors, you can make Asian, Mediterranean, Italian, American or Indian style baked chicken. (Yes, I have them all right here on the blog!).
A good marinade needs something acidic, something spicy and a couple of flavor boosters. I had just bought the freshest cilantro that day and I knew it had to go in the marinade. Not as a garnish or in a dip or sauce, but a big handful of fragrant leaves added right in the marinade. In went some finely chopped ginger and garlic as well. Loads of them, in fact. To add some spice, I zeroed in on sriracha. Isn’t that stuff simply awesome? Want to dress up a sandwich, salad or soup? Drizzle some sriracha on top. Want to make a fiery marinade? Sriracha to the rescue, again!
But once the sriracha went in, I knew I was in a bit of trouble. I needed something to counter the heat or the little guy wouldn’t even dream of touching it. I quickly scanned the fridge and pantry, and then I spied some beautiful Valencia oranges on the counter-top. Would it work? Why not? Cilantro, garlic, ginger, sriracha and orange – it had to work. I juiced a couple of oranges and kept adding it to the marinade till I was satisfied with the flavors. I swear, I would’ve eaten it straight up! It was so good, something very different from what we are used to.
I marinated the chicken for the maximum time I could allow myself that day, and it was just short of 2 hours. I am sure the longer it sits, the better it will be. Into the oven goes the chicken and out it comes perfectly juicy and golden.
To go with the chicken, I made a cilantro yogurt sauce. I wanted to serve it with rice, but didn’t have enough time to do a proper fried rice. So I simply tossed the rice in a turmeric sauce and added some green peas for color and texture.
It was all unbelievably good. Truly, one of the best meals I’ve put together. Needless to say, it was a big hit. We devoured it all like a family of hungry bears, and here is the recipe for you guys. Don’t just read it, you have to make it, alright?!! At least PIN it for later, so you don’t forget.
- Cilantro - ¼ cup, chopped
- Ginger - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
- Garlic - 2 tbsp, finely chopped
- Orange juice - from 2 medium oranges
- Sriracha sauce - 1-2 tbsp (as per heat desired)
- Salt - to taste
- Chicken drumsticks - 6
- Oil - to brush on top
- Cilantro - ½ cup, roughly torn
- Yogurt - 2 cups
- Salt - ½ tsp
- Oil - 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds - ½ tsp
- Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
- Green peas - ¼ cup (fresh or frozen)
- Cooked rice - 3 cups
- Salt - ¾ tsp (or to taste)
- Combine the marinade ingredients for chicken (cilantro through sriracha sauce) in a mixing bowl. Taste and season with salt as required. Dip the chicken drumsticks in the marinade. Using your hands, thoroughly coat the chicken with the marinade, getting some under the skin as well. Close the container tightly and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F. Set a baking rack over a rimmed baking pan and brush lightly with oil. Set the chicken pieces on the rack and dab lightly with oil.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then turn pieces over and bake for another 30 minutes or till juices run clear when poked with a knife. Finish by broiling for a minute or two to crisp the skin.
- Remove from oven and rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve with cilantro yogurt and turmeric rice.
- Prepare cilantro yogurt sauce and turmeric rice while chicken is baking. Recipes follow.
- Blend the cilantro and yogurt till smooth. Season with salt. Refrigerate till use.
- In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add cumin seeds and when they begin to crackle, reduce heat and add turmeric powder. This is done so as not to burn the turmeric powder.
- Immediately tip in the peas and rice and stir to coat everything in the turmeric sauce. Once heated through, season with salt and serve hot.
Juicy, golden chicken with a crisp skin is always a favorite. And when it is served with equally delicious accompaniments, it makes for a memorable meal.
So, tell me, how do you come up with marinades for meat? Do you think they make a difference in the overall taste? What is your favorite marinade recipe? Do share.
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