’Tis the season to be competing

The first weekend in February two football teams duked it out on the field, the second weekend bedazzled music stars clamored for a Grammy and, on the final weekend of the month, our favorite tinsel town residents will get all fapitzed for the chance to go home with Oscar. But one competition that won’t be airing on anyone’s flat screen is what I’d like to tell you about  today.

We hosted our first Super Bowl party this year and my husband Sam made a daring request – could we serve a dairy course followed by a meat course? While I wanted to yell “Are you crazy?” I instead calmly replied- “What dishes did you have in mind?” My desire not to squash my husband’s culinary imagination with legitimate excuses such as “That’s too difficult, expensive, time consuming, etc.” lead to the following menu: a dairy course of chips, guacamole, seven layer dip and Mediterranean dip (feta-hummus-tabouli), and a meat course of chicken legs two ways, vegetarian chili, cold cuts platter, rolls and coleslaw – with half time in between.

Although I get tired just recounting this, for some reason I decided to kick it up a notch by making the desserts myself, and doing a chicken competition. Here’s how this competition worked; I prepared each of the two different chicken recipes using two different brands of chicken –Grow and Behold (which I’m getting in exchange for posting on this blog twice a month) was pitted against a commercial kosher chicken brand.

All of these elaborate plans ended up keeping me in the kitchen for the entire game – I think I caught one Budweiser commercial- but my guests say it was worth it, for them. Everyone agreed that the chicken was tasty, but folks were divided about which brand they preferred. Some frankly had underdeveloped palates and couldn’t tell the difference, but many definitely liked the Grow and Behold poultry better – the legs were larger, there was more to bite into, and there’s something to be said for having a real deep chicken flavor that shines through any sauce you put in it.  I couldn’t get people to fill out the official score cards, but in my opinion, Grow and Behold was the winner not only because I preferred the richer taste, but also because I can get my green points knowing that the chicken I was eating was raised nicely.

The recipe I want to share with you is a best of both recipes from the chicken competition. Everyone is a winner when you sprinkle onion, garlic powder and paprika over the chicken and baste it with a combination of balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and apricot preserves.
The key to cooking pasture raised chicken is to cook the meat for a long time at a low temperature. In doing online research for some guidelines, I read about cooking pasture-raised meat at a temperature that is 20 degrees lower than a recipe normally calls for. So I made the necessary adjustments and used a thermometer to make sure it had reached a safe temperature (about 165 degrees).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I look forward to sharing more with you soon.  My next post will be Grow and Behold chicken thighs in a beer, honey, and thyme glaze – my husband went crazy over it. Stay tuned. (If you’re looking for some other good dishes or a dessert to compliment this chicken, try out some of the recipes on my blog, Double Portion.)

Balsamic, Syrup and Preserves Chicken
The time and temperatures in this recipe are tailored for pasture raised poultry.

16 chicken legs
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup maple syrup
12 oz jar of apricot preserves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lay the chicken out in a large baking dish. Sprinkle each chicken piece with the onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and pepper.

Bake for 30 minutes uncovered, remove from oven to rotate the pieces and sprinkle them with the onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and paprika. Bake for another 10 minutes.

In the mean time mix the balsamic, maple syrup and apricot preserves in a bowl with a whisk.

After the ten minutes has elapsed, remove the chicken from the oven again to glaze them with this mixture.

Bake for another hour.

Give the chicken a crispy finish by putting it under the broiler for 5 minutes.

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