I know all too well that planning meals ahead of time, doing the grocery shopping in bulk, and even cooking in advance, are the easiest paths to a stress-free suppertime, but being organised often takes time and time is a scarce commodity when there is a toddler and newborn in the equation. And so I often find myself at the supermarket without a clue as to what to cook for dinner, except that I am relieved to have arrived there with both kids still alive.
But then begins the mad dash to complete the grocery shopping before one or both kids decide that the cramped fruit and veg section is the appropriate forum to suddenly air their wailing complaints. This often means quickly filling the shopping basket with familiar foods which I know I can randomly throw together to create a meal, and the most common protein I turn to is chicken.
As much as I love to cook and spend my days pottering about in the kitchen, at this stage in my life, being able to commit more than 5 minutes to any activity uninterrupted is a luxury. So these days, when it comes to cooking, I am often turning to recipes which require minimal preparation and minimal stoveside activity.
Chicken drumsticks, and also chicken thighs, happen to be something I can prepare quickly before popping them into the oven to bake for a good hour or so with little input from my part during that time.
The recipe below comes from Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook, and I love that it is a recipe which doesn’t require any overnight marinading. Of course, leaving the chicken to marinate overnight will produce a more flavoursome meal, but the pungent ingredients in the marinade means that you can get away with this step for a perfectly tasty result. Rachel Khoo teams up her chicken with a Malaysian salad of cucumber and pineapple which is both refreshing and sweet.
If you are not serving this dish to children (or adults) with sensitive palates, I would add a few more chillies into the marinade for a good, spicy kick. I would also be tempted to add chopped red chillies to the salad but, as not everyone is a fan of spicy food, this is where Rachel Khoo’s Pickled Chillies come in handy. Being the only person in our family who likes spicy food, I often have to omit the chillies from my cooking and instead make do with chillies as a condiment. But these pickled chillies are so delicious that I almost don’t mind.
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
- 100 g (3.5 oz) runny honey
- 80 ml (1/3 cup) light soy sauce
- 1 red chilli (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 kg (2 lb) chicken drumsticks &/or chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 small red onion
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 large cucumber
- ½ small pineapple
- sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- In a food processor, blend together the garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, red chilli, sesame oil, and fish sauce.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a few incisions into the chicken pieces on the diagonal. Place the chicken pieces on a large roasting tray and pour over the marinade. Use your hands to rub the marinade into the chicken pieces, making sure that each piece is well-coated.
- Bake the chicken for 45-60 minutes, or until they are bronzed and golden. During this time, turn the chicken over once or twice so that it can brown on all sides. And while you are in the kitchen, you may as well put on a pot of steamed rice to make the meal more substantial.
- Once the chicken is ready, remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle the chicken with the toasted sesame seeds.
- To make the Malaysian salad, thinly slice the red onion and place in a salad bowl with the lime juice to steep for 5-10 minutes. Halve and de-seed the cucumber, before chopping the cucumber into large bite-sized chunks. Peel and chop the pineapple into similar-sized pieces as the cucumber. Add the cucumber and pineapple to the steeped onions and toss everything to combine. Season with sea salt just before serving.
- To prepare the chicken ahead of time, simply place the slashed chicken pieces into a large zip-lock freezer bag and add the marinade. Close the bag and make sure the chicken pieces are well-coated. For extra reassurance against leaks and stinky spills in the fridge, I would double-bag the chicken before putting it into the fridge, where it can be kept for a couple of days. Before you cook the chicken, bring it to room temperature first by leaving the unopened bag on the kitchen counter for 20-30 minutes.
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If you have made this dish, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird