Tart Cherry-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks, Sesame Miso Spinach by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


July 13, 2018


I am my father’s daughter in my love for cherries.  My father didn’t ‘bother’ with most fruit, with the exception of cherries and blueberries. And the blueberries had to be made into homemade pies to attract his attention.


I thought cherries were delicious as well.  And I also knew that they were special: they were only available for a short few weeks in early summer, they were expensive enough to be semi-rationed by my mother and that my ‘fruit-phobic’ father really enjoyed them.


In this recipe, cherries (cherry juice, actually) become a vehicle for combining Asian flavors, especially the pungently spicy Korean Gochujang paste with familiar garlic and ginger to glaze roasted chicken legs.


The dish can be made ahead and eaten at room temperature with the sautéed miso spinach. 


Great for a beach picnic!



  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yields: 8 to 10 pieces of chicken, serving 4 to 6


cherry glaze

1-quart (32 ounces) tart cherry juice, no added sugar (widely available as “prepared from concentrate”)

1-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

4 medium cloves fresh garlic, peeled

2 cups dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika

½ piece star anise

pinch kosher salt

4 pounds chicken drumsticks, skin on (approximately 9/10 drumsticks)

¾ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt to season

3 to 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil for sautéing, plus more as needed

sesame miso spinach

1 ½ pounds baby spinach, washed (baby spinach won’t need to be de-stemmed)

2 to 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil, plus more as needed

1 to 2 teaspoons finely mashed garlic (from approximately 3 cloves of garlic)

1 tablespoon mild miso paste, at room temperature

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted


~ Begin by emptying the cherry juice into a 2-quart non-reactive saucepan. Set aside.

~ Peel the gingerroot with the edge of a teaspoon, or with a paring knife. Slice into thin pieces and add to the cherry juice. Slice the peeled garlic cloves into thin slivers and add to the cherry juice. Add the rest of the ingredients: the Worcestershire sauce, the brown sugar, the smoked paprika, the star anise and pinch of kosher salt. Whisk to combine the ingredients.

~ Bring saucepan to the stove, use medium heat and dissolve the brown sugar. Whisk continuously until sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and let mixture simmer until reduced by 1/3 of its original volume.

Set aside to steep and cool.

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~ Wipe the drumsticks dry with paper towels. Lightly season with no more than 1 teaspoon of kosher salt for 9 or 10 chicken drumsticks.

~ Bring a large sauté pan to the stovetop. Add enough vegetable oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat-source on to medium-high. When the oil appears to ‘shimmer’ and before it begins to smoke, carefully add the chicken legs to the pan. Place the drumsticks in the pan with your fingers or a pair of tongs. Don’t drop or toss the chicken into the pan as splattering oil burns!

Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook the chicken in two batches.

~ Turn the drumsticks in the pan to evenly brown all the sides. When browned, remove each to a paper towel-lined sheet pan while you continue to brown the rest of the legs. Add more oil to the pan when necessary.

~ Grab a roasting pan or casserole dish that will hold all the browned chicken legs in one layer.

Add the browned legs to this dish. Separately, strain the cherry glaze into a 4-cup measuring cup or bowl. Press down on the solids with a spoon…we don’t want to lose any of the glaze!

Discard the solids left in the strainer.

~ Spoon the cherry glaze over the browned chicken legs. Add enough glaze to reach half-way up the legs; that is, half the chicken leg will not be covered with sauce. (You may or may not have extra cherry glaze, it will depend on the size of your baking dish.)

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes.

~ After 20 minutes of cooking, remove pan from oven and discard the foil cover. Turn the chicken legs over in the glaze. Return pan to oven and continue to roast, uncovered for another 15 to 20 minutes, turning the legs over in the glaze a couple more times.

The legs will pick-up a nice mahogany color from the glaze.

~ Check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer. All poultry is safely cooked when the thermometer registers 165 degrees. When the correct temperature is reached remove pan from oven and let it rest, uncovered while you make the spinach.

~ Wash the spinach in batches, in a large bowl of cold water. Put the washed spinach in a colander and shake off the excess water. Remove the stems if they are large and seemingly tough.

~ (Alternately, purchase pre-washed baby spinach and skip these steps.)

~ Wash the sauté pan that was used to brown the chicken. Put the pan back on the stove over medium-low heat. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil, again using enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Working in batches, add spinach to the pan and toss continuously to cook and wilt. Add the garlic to the pan. Keep it moving so it doesn’t hit the bottom of the pan and burn. The garlic will cook and be distributed into the cooked spinach. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to work in batches.

~ When just wilted, turn off the heat and mix in the miso paste until thoroughly dissolved into the spinach. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of kosher salt if needed. (Some miso pastes are less salty than others.)

~ To Serve:

Choose a large, somewhat shallow platter. Line the bottom of the platter with the cooked spinach. Lay the drumsticks on top of the cooked spinach. Be creative in your presentation!

Sprinkle the platter with toasted sesame seeds. A bit of parsley or cilantro on top would not be out of place, either!


Please note, prep and cooking tasks may be overlapped, thus reducing overall time required for the recipe.


 For example:  the chicken legs can be browned while the cherry glaze is reducing.  And the spinach can be prepped and sautéed while the chicken is roasting in the oven.


With overlapping the tasks, this dish could be prepared in under 1 hour.