Maple syrup makes a perfect marinade or sauce for roasting meat on high heat because it caramelizes so nicely. In the fall, I have a maple brined pork recipe that has become a standard for entertaining house guests, but this time I chose drumsticks because they’re both affordable and delicious, and because my boys are big fans.
This recipe was inspired by the really wonderful sauce from Serving up the Skinny’s Ooey Gooey Maple Chicken Legs and the clever, one-pot technique used in Food, Family & Finds’ recipe for Maple Dijon Baked Chicken Legs and Potatoes. I made this recipe twice – the first time to determine workable proportions of ingredients, and the second time ostensibly to make a couple of tweaks, but really just because it’s delicious. In both recipes I used the fennel, carrots, and parsnips I had on hand instead of potatoes.
A note about the maple syrup and quality: until recently maple syrup grades described the color rather than quality. The lightest color has the mildest flavor, but I actually prefer the darker variety for its deep, smoky flavor. As a friend from Vermont pointed out, it’s the dark, mucky stuff that real Vermonters love best. This year the rating system changed this year to allow for high quality (Grade A) syrup that comes in light, medium or dark amber.
For this recipe, I used Grade B maple syrup from Maryland’s S&S Maple Camp. Grade B syrups are less translucent than Grade As. They have a rich maple flavor that is perfect for baking or cooking, but are still surprisingly palatable – certainly good enough for a stack of pancakes!