The term “free range” when describing chickens should be taken with a grain of salt. This term is not regulated by the federal government (not that that means anything), but basically anyone can slap a label of “all natural,” “free range,” or “grass fed” on a package without having to prove much. You really need to do your research. I found a company out of California that made claims of “free range” whose chickens are sold at Sprouts. It was more per pound, and after being duped by another company that has law suits filed against it for making false free range claims, I decided to do a little research before forking out the extra dough.
My first Google search, of course, took me to their website. The website had all the buzz words, and went on to explain that hormones are never allowed with poultry in the US. I have found this claim made multiple times before, so don’t worry about finding a hormone free chicken – they all are. Of course, this begs the question, how do those big corporations grow their chickens so big if hormones aren’t allowed? I digress. I wanted information outside of their website confirming or refuting the validity of their claims about Happy Chickens.
Guess what? I actually found one. A news article was written about this chicken farm that confirmed, with pictures, that the claims they were making was true. Sure, there were a ton of chickens on this farm. If they’re going to be big enough to raise chickens and ship across the country, there would have to be, right? But the reporter confirmed that the chickens are raised humanely and antibiotics are never used. If a chicken gets sick it will be treated with antibiotics to make it better, but that chicken is never sold as food.
I’d bought a few of their whole chickens, but hadn’t branched out to other cuts (just breasts or thighs) because they were crazy high priced. I don’t think it was a sale, but I found chicken legs for the same price as the whole chicken. A whole chicken is great because you can make broth with the bones after carving it, but sometimes you want something a little different.
Knowing my guys can really put away some food I bought two packages – ten legs in total – and the price tag came in just under $9. I erroneously assumed we’d have leftovers. But, hey, it’s okay that we didn’t. I found something the guys loved that I feel good about serving. One other thing: I can definitely taste the difference in grass fed beef vs commercially farmed beef. Not so much the case with the chicken. It’s not so much about the taste here as it is knowing the chickens are raised humanely without all the antibiotics and other crap that goes into other types of farming. Bonus: there is very little active prep time with this recipe, so you can put it in the oven and work on other things while it’s cooking.
2 packages chicken legs (about 10)
3 T. coconut oil
Cracked black pepper
Paprika (sweet or smoked)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. If using foil, grease lightly and set aside. Put chicken legs in a gallon-sized ziptop bag. Melt coconut oil and pour over chicken legs.
Close the bag and knead to completely cover the legs with the oil. Be sure to work quickly, as the cold chicken will harden the coconut oil.
Arrange chicken legs on prepared baking sheet. Dust chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder, chili powder and paprika. Flip legs over and dust the other side.
Bake for one hour, turning legs over after 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Note: Usually I check chicken with a meat thermometer before serving to ensure it’s fully cooked. In this case I did not because I knew an hour in the oven was plenty of time. If the legs are particularly large or you just want to be sure, internal temperature (not touching the bone) should be 165 degrees.