Monday, February 28, 2011

A Fresh Take on Chicken Legs

I am bored with chicken. Chicken legs, thighs, breasts, tenders, whole chickens, split chickens, ground chicken. I have roasted, baked, sauteed, and made soup until I'm ready to scream. You notice the only thing missing is fried chicken, which I try to avoid, though I'll admit that I succumb about once a year. So there I was with two packages of chicken legs staring me in the face. What to do? What to do? I like baking chicken because the oven does the work while I play. Always a good combination.

I hit the internet. Everyone does the same old things, mostly with some sort of breading. Yawn. And then I found something that intrigued me. Over at Steamy, Jaden Hair shared a recipe for Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings by Chef Jesse Thomas of PizzAmore restaurant in Mount Dora. The recipe had a few things going for it. No breading, lots of herbs and seasoning, and most interestingly of all, the Parmesan goes on after the chicken bakes!

Naturally, I altered the recipe a bit. For starters, I had chicken legs, not wings. While I'm sure my character Natasha has fresh basil growing in a pot on her windowsill, I do not, and to be honest, I wasn't really interested in the sauce. Nevertheless, I forged ahead and it turned out surprisingly well. It's super easy and not high maintenance (meaning you stick it in the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off). It was absolutely delicious. Flavorful and a bit crunchy, I can see it being a good alternative to fried chicken. Very satisfying. I imagine happy little kids running around with one of these chicken legs in hand!

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Legs

(recipe by Chef Jesse Thomas and shared via Jaden Hair at Steamy

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt (1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 pounds (ten legs) chicken legs
3 tablespoons melted butter (or olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or use seasoned salt and omit Northwood's below)
1/4 teaspoon Northwoods spice from Penzey's

Preheat oven to 425. Place the chicken legs on a baking sheet where the juices can run off. (If using a broiler pan, you might want to grease it with olive oil.)

Mix the oregano, rosemary, salt, and cumin. Sprinkle on chicken legs. Bake for 45 minutes.

Just before you take the legs out of the oven, mix the garlic powder, salt, melted butter, and Parmesan. Place the baked chicken legs in the mixture and toss. Serve and enjoy!


  1. Krista, what fun to go searching on the Internet and find a recipe you like! And of course, I love the Parmesan idea. I use Parmesan on lots of foods to add flavor and crispiness. Yum!


  2. We love fried chicken here, but I have gotten a little tired of our recipe. This sounds really great and I love the idea of putting the Parmesan on there after the baking!

  3. Krista, this is great thank you. I have been wanting to try something new as we love fried chicken here as well. I am trying to get my crew to eat healthier, but at the same time want to use some of their favorites and this is it. The boys will love it.

  4. I thought you would like the Parmesan, Avery! It adds a very nice flavor.

    Elizabeth, I think your crew will like this. So easy! Shhh, we won't tell them that, though.

    Babs, I think eating healthier was on my mind, too. I did use butter instead of olive oil, but I bet the olive oil is just as good!

    ~ Krista

  5. This is a recipe I can use especially since it's chicken and I can stick in the oven and go about my business. Thanks!

  6. I like chicken thighs--bet this would be really good with them too.

  7. Oh Krista - you must have been hearing my laments these past few weeks. I'm tired of chicken too. Bored silly. This is just the wake-up recipe I needed! Thank you for posting it!

  8. I've been bored with chicken too (and I am sure it's bored with me). This looked like an excellent new taste treat.

  9. Great thoughts on bird boredom and I appreciate the alternative to fried, too. Lots of flavor to replace the grease and that's fantastic. I’m also looking forward to trying the Penzey's Northwoods spice, (such a fun name for a spice mix). Just like your chicken, it sounds delicious.

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  10. Dru, I think you'll love this. I just had a cold chicken leg for lunch and it was still good! Nice for a picnic.

    Judy, I bet you're right. And there's always the sauce if anyone wants it.

    Julie and Mary Jane, looks like we've all been burned out on chicken! Who knew? This recipe has restored my faith in chicken, though. It's so easy, and easy to remember, too. I can imagine that it will become a regular around here.

    Cleo, Northwoods is one of my very favorite spice blends. So good. Especially on the grill. Makes wonderful pork chops, too.

    ~ Krista