Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chicken Lollipops or Frenched Chicken Drumsticks

The humble chicken leg doesn't get much attention. That's funny because when we were kids, a drumstick was usually a preferred option.  I think that's mainly because kids love food with a handle. Frenching a chicken leg is a great way to elevate the chicken leg to something a little edgy, like a food truck might serve.  It might be adult food but the kid in you will still love the handle.

Frenching is a technique where tissues are cut away, exposing the bone for a fancier presentation. Usually it is simply for appearance sake, as with pork, veal or lamb chops.  But frenching a chicken leg is more than just an appearance treatment.  When you french a chicken leg, you are also removing tendons and compacting the meat, making a more juicy and enjoyable bite.

I first learned this technique from Danielle Bennett, aka DivaQ.  DivaQ is one of my biggest influences along with Chris Lilly and Adam Perry Lang.  She has coached me not only on BBQ but also social media and building a personal brand.  Plus, she has more freaking energy and determination of anyone I have ever worked with.  Anyway, she came out with a great book this year and she has a recipe for Chicken Lollipops in it, you should check it out.  [My review of her book]

I used Malcolm Reed's technique for trimming the chicken lollipops.  

You will need a good pair of kitchen sheers and a sharp knife.  A tool that I figured out is incredibly helpful for trimming the tendons is a pair of locking forceps.  I think I got this pair from a unused suture removal kit that I got after a surgery.  You can buy them at hobby stores or online for just a few bucks. 

One tip from me - make two passes around with your knife. You'll cut through the meat and skin rather easily but those tendons are tough, slippery, and have a way of hiding in the grooves.

Trying to hold onto the tendons for snipping with the scissors was frustrating until I figured out to use the forceps.  It holds those slippery things securely and then I lift the leg by that tendon, making it easier to snip with the scissors. No more chasing tendons as they slip out of my grip while trying to snip. Great "light bulb" moment for me.

All lined up and ready to go.

Seasonings:  The first batch this weekend was a base coat of my poultry rub and then a coat of Meat Church Honey Hog.  That came across as a touch too salty (not bad, but on the edge) so the second batch was Honey Hog by itself. 

This is one of the Honey Hog only legs.  You can visibly see why I love this as a general purpose BBQ rub.  

This cook was on one of our large Big Green Egg's indirect at 375°f until it they hit an internal temp of around 165°f.  Then it's time to sauce and go back on.

I made a honey-bourbon-roasted garlic BBQ sauce using DivaQ's Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce from her book.  I subbed our roasted garlic for garlic. I added 1/2 cup of local honey, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of single batch bourbon.

Dipping the chicken instead of brushing it on is a trick from competition BBQ. 

Legs and thighs should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 175°f.  I like going to 180°f for legs - they can handle it and still be succulent.  My favorite instant read thermometer is my Thermapen.  Yeah, I still use versions 1 and 2 and they are dated (2 newer models out) but I think that's a testament to how well these things are built.  I don't HAVE to buy a new one every time they update their models. [FTC Disclaimer: No compensation for that statement and I am not an affiliate seller of Thermoworks products, just my opinion.]

If I was doing a food truck menu, this would probably be on there.  Chicken lollys and corn on the cob.

These were fantastic.  It had that old school, Southern BBQ chicken flavor with a fancier presentation and a bolder, modern taste.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post.  


  1. Great post...

    I like to make those for halftime treats. They go over great with both kids and adults.

  2. Great tips, as usual. That rub looks amazing.

  3. Great job Chris, they look awesome

  4. They almost look too pretty to eat... almost!

  5. Very nice article and how-to. Thank you!


  6. CG - would you recommend brining the legs using this technique?

  7. Great looking drummies. I catch a lot of flack on the final temperature of 180 but it is so right. I actually aim for 185. Everybody wants to stop at 165. And dipping into the sauce is a great tip.

    I tried Frenching before and was lucky I didn’t injury myself. The forceps obviously are the solution. I have several around here. So I see dummies in my future.