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!
- 3 lbs of chicken legs, skin on (approximately 10)
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 3 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce or Paleo-friendly Sriracha
- ¼ cup diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic diced
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- 5 carrots, cut in half vertically and chopped in 1 inch slices
- 4-5 parsnips, cut in half vertically and chopped in 1 inch slices
- 2 bulbs fennel, diced in 1 inch pieces
- 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup, soy sauce or coconut amines, chili sauce or sriracha, diced onion, garlic, and green onions.
- Add the chicken legs and marinade to a 1 gallon Ziploc bag, close and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Line a casserole dish with non-stick foil.
- In a bowl, toss diced vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Add vegetables to the foil lined baking dish. Place chicken legs over the vegetables, in a criss cross pattern, as pictured.
- Bake uncovered for 60 minutes.
- Turn broiler onto high and broil for up to 5 minutes, just until skin browns.
- Test the vegetables for softness, and if necessary, remove the chicken legs from the pan and continue cooking the vegetables for up to 10 minutes or until soft.