Uptown Smothered Drumsticks with Couscous and Kale

By Marcus Samuelsson |

I had a blast doing Good Morning America‘s $5 Dinner Challenge. Affordable doesn’t mean that it doesn’t taste good!

Here are my tips for cooking on a budget. Check out the video for more!

Learn how to cook so that you can use your leftovers efficiently. Every item of produce can make at least one to two dishes!

Buying meats whole means more meals! For example, if you buy a whole chicken you can steam the breasts, make a stock out of the carcass, roast the drum sticks, like in my recipe for uptown smothered chicken legs, and fry the thighs.

Plan out your week and utilize the freezer efficiently. Keep bones, vegetable scraps, and carcasses in the freezer for stocks and don’t be afraid to freeze leftovers in portioned containers.

Learn how to pickle and jar! It’s a fun way to add flavor and enhance your cooking, plus you can prolong the life of your vegetables.

Prep Details

Servings: 2

Total time: 2.5 hours


For the Marinade and Chicken Legs

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 inch piece ginger, grated

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

4 chicken drumsticks

Flour for dredging

1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic

For the Kale

1/2 head of kale , roughly chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon peanut butter

2 teaspoons maple syrup

Roasted garlic (from chicken)

For the Couscous

1/2 box of couscous

2 garlic cloves , thinly sliced

1 can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1/2 inch piece ginger, grated

Dried oregano , thyme, salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh scallions

For the Smothering Sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Drippings from chicken


For the Marinade and Chicken Legs:

Whisk together the first nine ingredients until well-incorporated. Place chicken in the marinade and allow to marinate for at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove most of the marinade from the chicken and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet. Add garlic and chicken breasts, skin side down and sear on all sides, approximately 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to the oven and roast for 10 more minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken from the pan. Reserve the drippings and roasted garlic.

For the Kale:

Massage the kale with a little bit of olive oil and salt until bright green. Sauté in one tablespoon of olive oil with the chopped peanuts and the thinly sliced garlic cloves. Add the apple cider vinegar, water, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the kale is well sautéed and cooked down. Stir in the peanut butter and maple syrup. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the chicken into the kale.

For the Couscous:

Sautee the garlic, ginger, and chopped peanuts in olive oil until browned, about three minutes. Add in the couscous, chopped tomatoes, water and seasonings and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for another ten minutes. Return the lid and fluff with a fork. Stir in the fresh scallions.

For the Smothering Sauce:

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce until well-incorporated. To serve, smother the cooked chicken legs in the sauce. Serve over the couscous with the kale on the side.