When I was 10 or 11 years old, almost all the girls in my class had a notepad that would have a question on each page, then we’d give this book to someone else in the class and they’d write their answers and give it back to you. There was really no reason for it, but that was before the age of computers, cell phones, internet and even tv shows (at least back in Russia). So, that was what we did for fun. Questions were different in each notebook, but simple and ultimately still the same: what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite book, what’s your favourite food. I remember that I almost always wrote the same thing for the food question and it was: “Chicken with prunes that my mom makes.” Although sometimes there were other answers, but all were a combination of something that my mom cooked.
I asked my mom recently about the origin of this recipe and she couldn’t tell me anything, she said she knew this recipe all her life. Thinking back to Russia (well, Soviet Union really) and the history, I could probably guess that it was a way to make something fancy when there was not a lot you could buy. Mom usually made this when we had company over and everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed over it.
I always loved the combination of cooked, plumped prunes, sweet and savoury from all the chicken juices. Adding a note of sophistication to a humble chicken. When I eat it now, I always eat the chicken first, saving prunes for last as I think they are the best part of the dish. My hubby, however, doesn’t like the combination of sweet and savoury, so I get to have double the prunes!! This is one time when I’m not complaining that he doesn’t like something!
Chicken with Prunes
Chicken drumsticks – 10
Prunes, pitted – 10
Garlic salt – 1/2 teaspoon
Ground black pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
Chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Thyme – 2 springs
Lemon juice – 1/4 lemon
Oil – drizzle
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Line baking dish with parchment paper if using.
- In a small bowl combine garlic salt, pepper and chill powder. Mix. *
- Rub the spices all over the chicken drumsticks.
- Losen skin on each drumstick and stuff one prune under the skin of each drumstick.
- Place chicken into the baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes squeeze some lemon over the legs, sprinkle thyme leaves, drizzle a little bit of oil ** and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. ***
* This mix of seasoning is quite spicy, so you can omit chill powder or reduce the amount of pepper. Ultimately, you can use any spices you want for the chicken. My mom never used pepper and everything was seasoned with mostly just salt.
** Technically you can add thyme, lemon and oil right away, but I like to let the chicken cook a little bit first, I find that the flavour of lemon is more pronounced when it’s added later.
*** My oven is weird and everything takes longer to bake usually. This took more than an hour in my oven.
– I also like to broil the chicken for the last 2-3 minutes to get the skin a bit crispier.