Sunday, April 6, 2008


My plan was to grill chicken legs for dinner; but, after some almost-80-degree days here in North Carolina, the weather turned on us. Today was cold and damp, in the 50's, and I wasn't in a grilling mood. I was in a turn-on-the-oven-and-get-warm mood. So I made a stuffing for the legs and roasted them. It was a simple dinner: chicken, stuffing and salad; but it was very satisfying. And warm.

Roasted Stuffed Chicken Legs
2 chicken legs
3 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance buttery spread, or extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup Peppridge Farm herbed stuffing mix
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided use
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean the chicken legs well with cold water, removing any excess fat and innards that remain near the bone. Place them in a zip-lock bag. Sprinkle with the kosher salt, then pour enough cold water in to cover them (about 1-1/2 cups). Close the bag and massage to distribute salt. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Prepare stuffing: Melt the Smart Balance in a large fry pan or saute' pan on medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms when the Smart Balance starts to sizzle, not before. (If you put mushrooms in a pan that's not hot enough, they give off their water too quickly.) Saute the veggies for 2-3 minutes, or till onions are transparent and mushrooms have reduced in size. Add the stuffing mix and enough chicken broth to moisten it (about 1/3-1/2 cup). Stir, remove from heat. Cover and set aside. This can be done ahead of time and allowed to sit covered on the counter or cooktop until you are ready to stuff the chicken.
Preheat oven to 400F. Remove chicken legs from brine; rinse in cold clear water; drain on clean paper towels. Set out a baking dish of the right size for the chicken. If it's too big, you might have smoking -- try to find one that the legs will fit in nicely. (A deep-dish pie plate works nicely for 2 legs; for more you might go to a 9"x13". ) Spray the dish with non-stick cooking spray. Lift up the skin of the chicken legs, separating it from the meat, being careful not to tear the skin. Lightly salt and pepper the meat under the skin. Spoon about 1/4 cup stuffing under the skin, and then close the skin with toothpicks or skewers to hold it down. Spoon leftover stuffing in the center of the baking dish. Lay the stuffed legs so they cover the leftover stuffing. Pour 1/2 cup broth over the chicken, then salt and pepper the skins lightly. Place in oven uncovered and bake for 30-40 minutes, or till chicken tests done and is nicely browned. Baste the legs occasionally with pan juices. Yield: 2 servings (Double for 4; triple for 6, etc.)

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