AJC food and dining coverage is adapting to the pandemic

The story that I am going to share with you today is vastly different from the one I planned to write a few weeks ago.

The story I thought I was writing was about chicken drumsticks: why folks haven’t been buying chicken legs, even though they are flavorful, easy to cook and inexpensive. I was going to discuss consumers’ preference for white meat these days, and how, as whole chickens are being processed and packaged into trays of identical poultry parts at supermarkets, more of the dark meat — drumsticks, in particular — is being exported, or sent to pet food suppliers.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

Well, that has changed. A lot has changed since terms like coronavirus and COVID-19 have entered the vocabulary of our daily lives. Not only are chicken drumsticks getting snatched off grocery store shelves right now, but also canned goods, frozen foods and toilet paper. It’s a lot to absorb. (Pun intended. Please, let’s laugh, lest we cry.)

In this time of uncertainty, one thing is certain: We all still need to eat. While your grocery shopping and dining routines have been disrupted, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s food and dining team is committed to keeping you as informed as possible, so that you can feed your families safely, and enjoy your time together at the stove and table.

We also are committed to keeping you up to date about the people and businesses who enable you to put food on the table. Georgia’s food community includes more than 500,000 food service workers across nearly 19,000 eating and drinking establishments in this state, as well as hundreds of food producers, all of whom have been impacted severely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To that end, I’d like to share with you some of the changes you can expect in the AJC’s food and dining coverage in the weeks ahead.

We are suspending restaurant reviews for the time being. During a period when numerous restaurants are closed, and the remainder are operating via carryout and delivery service, restaurant reviews are neither feasible nor appropriate.

In lieu of restaurant reviews, we instead will be sharing restaurant briefs — short stories that will put a spotlight on metro Atlanta restaurants that are still operating. In these stories, we hope that you will learn about the challenges that restaurants are facing, as well as the creative measures they are taking via their menus, and other avenues, to stay afloat to serve their communities and their employees. These briefs will run Mondays through Thursdays in the Living section and in Friday's reformatted Do Guide. I encourage you to read these stories at ajc.com/things-to-do/atlanta-restaurants-blog, where you also can hear directly from restaurateurs, chefs, servers and other staff members through video interviews.

The Food section also will undergo changes. Feature stories, as well as recipe columns, will reflect the adaptations that home cooks are making to meal planning, as more households limit their public exposure with less frequent grocery shopping, and stock up on nonperishable goods.

The Food section column that I write, Kitchen Curious, will focus on this manner of frugal cooking, beginning with the April 2 edition. In addition, Kitchen Curious will run weekly, rather than biweekly.

As we make adjustments to our coverage, to provide you with a mix of informative and enjoyable food-related content every day of the week, we also want to hear from you. Perhaps staying at home has sparked your interest in cooking. Maybe you've landed on a winning recipe, or a great kitchen hack. You might have learned about a gesture of kindness, as many people work to fill the bellies of neighbors and unknowns. Please email me those stories and other tips to me at ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

Today’s column isn’t the one I had planned to write, yet the chicken drumstick recipes that were to accompany that story still are worth sharing. They are from Atlanta chef Todd Richards.

Todd isn’t one to waste. He seeks to feed hungry people, and he tucks away any leftovers. More than anything, he knows the comfort that comes from a plate of good food.

Roasted Chicken Drumsticks in Olive and Tomato Sauce

Roasted Chicken Drumsticks in Olive and Tomato Sauce
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 white onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 8 green olives, pitted and halved
  • 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Generously season the drumsticks with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Warm a heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat and add the oil. When hot, place the chicken in the skillet pan and sear it on all sides (about 2 minutes per each side). Remove the drumsticks from the skillet and set aside.
  • To the same skillet, add the onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes, then add the white wine and stewed tomatoes, stirring well to combine. Cook 4 minutes, until it reaches a high simmer. Return the chicken to the skillet, along with the olives and herbs. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes, until the chicken is fork tender. (Optional: If desired, add the mozzarella cheese slices over the chicken at the 10-minute cooking mark.) Remove from the oven. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6

Nutritional information

Per serving: (without mozzarella cheese): 183 calories (percent of calories from fat, 56), 13 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 192 milligrams sodium.

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks
  • 8 cups room-temperature water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup raw sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • Simple rub (recipe follows)
  • In a large bowl, combine the water, salt, sugar, soy sauce, hot sauce, and the lemon and orange wedges. Add the drumsticks to the brine mixture and brine overnight for 12 hours in the refrigerator, or 3 hours at room temperature.
  • When ready to cook, heat a smoker to 220 degrees. Remove the drumsticks from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the drumsticks dry with a paper towel. Prepare the simple rub in a bowl, add the drumsticks to the rub, coat well, and let stand 20 minutes. Smoke the drumsticks 40 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from the smoker and let rest 20 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: 110 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 12 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 657 milligrams sodium.

Simple Rub

Simple Rub
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Makes about ⅔ cup.

Nutritional information

Per serving: 14 calories (percent of calories from fat, 74), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 1 gram fat (trace saturated fat), no cholesterol, 778 milligrams sodium.


ExploreMore Adventures in Food
ExploreRead the AJC Fall Dining Guide: The Noodle Edition

Read more stories like this by liking Atlanta Restaurant Scene on Facebook, following @ATLDiningNews on Twitter and @ajcdining on Instagram.