Sticky Plum Chicken Drumsticks

Simple food is best. Not all the time, natch. There’s a time and a place for veloutes, textured shards and confit. Certainly if someone else is going to make it for you (or clean the kitchen). But when you’re limping along, it’s best to think in simple trios and quadrants.

So if what you’re after is a beguilingly easy refined sugar free plum sauce that’s perfect for gilding chicken drumsticks, skip straight to the bottom. If you’ve got the wherewithal for more, read on. 

I can hardly bring myself to type it I’m so bored by it all, but we’ve been sick. Again. For those who were ever agnostic on the matter, let me clarify it for you. Toddlers are vectors of disease. For all their impish snuggability they are sticky, winter blighted mites who love nothing more than to find germs and marinate in them. And once they fall, it’s nigh impossible for them to not slay the whole settlement. There are no quantities of hand sanitiser and wet wipes that will protect you from the chubby outstretched fingers and neck nuzzling sookiness of a truly poorly child at 2.29 am. I had every intention of getting a flu shot this year. I even paid my GP $35 for the pleasure of her spending three minutes writing out the script. But without an HR department to seamlessly insert a 10 minute calendar appointment into my Wednesday morning and make me line up with the rest of the department and roll up my sleeve before ducking out for my second latte, I never got around to having it applied. That was a tactical error.

And so after eight days wrangling a sleep adverse toddler with tonsillitis, it was my turn.

I fell hard. I fell in the deeply unglamorous way that you can when you’re poorly without an audience to buck up for. The Hungry One was interstate and a toddler who cannot muster the coordination to change their own soiled garments doesn’t hold much sway in my court. In the week that followed I may have fallen asleep sitting up on numerous occasions, and woken with a start to discover  a cough drop stuck to my shirt. I reverted to the smug advice given to parents of newborns; ‘sleep when baby sleeps’. That didn’t work so well when Will was freshly minted. Largely because I had the need to use those hours to feed myself and the rest of the flock (and write a cookbook). But in this instance, I did. Because I couldn’t eat, or swallow with any success. I survived for four days on chicken broth that I had stashed in the freezer in silicon muffin-tin sized pucks (a genius life hack if ever there was one) and frozen blueberries; packed with vitamin c, antioxidants and soothingly frigid.  I no longer have to worry about my offspring fending for himself if ever anything more drastic befalls me. Thanks to the structure of our fridge he can now find his way to the freezer, open the drawers and fetch the frozen berries. He then proceeded to spool away many an hour with the game of feeding Mummy one berry after another as she lay slumped on the couch. At night I slunk into bed straight after I settled him in with his stuffed bunnies.

tori and will sick couchThere were two very special men who helped us through that week. The first was my father, who swooped in some of the afternoons to take Will to the park (well, I assume it was the park, but since I was asleep before they even shut the front door, they could have been hitting up the casino for all I know). The second was Eddie Perfect on Playschool.

IMG_8935[1]We’re nearly out the other side. And so, the simple things are what we’re turning to. These chicken drumsticks are a cakewalk to cook. I highly suggest you make double of the sauce and freeze half, so you’ve got a headstart on a proper meal for next time you’re floundering. The sauce is satisfying, with the convivial acidity and stickiness of plums, soy (or tamari for the gluten intolerant) honey and star anise. All that’s required is to gloss your chicken pieces and bake for 35 minutes until they’re burnished and the juices run clear. Garnish the bronzed legs with sesame seeds, some fresh coriander and serve with quinoa (or brown rice) and steamed greens. It’s a simple supper, but sometimes that’s all you need.

Once you’ve finished, keep the bare drumsticks and use them as a base for making more chicken broth. Fingers crossed you’re not going to be poorly again in a hurry, but forewarned is forearmed. When there are toddlers on the loose, anything is possible/probable.

Sticky Plum Chicken Drumsticks

Makes enough for 8 chicken drumsticks. Nb, this sauce also works well with pork tenderloins, ribs or chicken thighs.


4 ripe plums
40 ml soy sauce, or tamari
2 tbsp honey
1 star anise
8 chicken drumsticks

To serve: black sesame seeds, fresh coriander, quinoa and steamed greens.

Here’s how we roll

1)Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

2)Pit the plums and place in a blender. Blend until you have a smooth puree.

3) Combine the plum puree with the sauce, honey and star anise in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened.

4) Taste the sauce. You want a balance of sweet and salty. Depending on how ripe your plums were, you may need to adjust with a little more honey or soy.

5) Coat the chicken drumsticks in the plum sauce. Place in a baking dish and bake for 35 minutes, until the juices from the centre of the drumsticks run clear.

6) Serve the drumsticks scattered with sesame seeds, fresh coriander and with quinoa or brown rice and steamed greens.

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