Anytime that a chef can make chicken legs look like a gourmet meal, then that chef is doing something good! Some Chinese chefs use a meat fabrication technique that involves pulling the chicken leg meat over the knuckle joint. This creates nice looking chicken leg presentation.
Chicken Tom-Toms are perfect for serving as finger food. The bone acts like a skewer and the hands remain clean when eating a chicken leg Tom-Tom.
To make Chicken Tom-Toms, the leg meat can be pulled over the joint, so the leg meat is inside-out. The leg meat can also be slid down the bone, so it gathers like a thick ball at the end of the drumstick. To fabricate To-Toms this way, the skin is removed and the tendons are clipped where the attach to the leg bone. The meat is pressed down to the thick end of the bone, till it can be slid no more. Narrow blade kitchen shears can then be used to clip off all of the exposed tendons.
Poultry shears that have a bone lopping notch make easy work of clipping off the lower leg end of the bone. Poultry shears that have narrow blades make it easy to clip the tendons too.
The poultry shears in the picture above are my favorite style of shears. There is a bone clipping notch on the lower blade. The blades are thin, curved and they come to a point. This style of kitchen shear is good for doing fine meat fabrication work!
Good strong heavy duty poultry shears like the one in the photo are available at commercial restaurant supply stores. Regular department store poultry shears are pretty much nothing more than fancy looking junk that will not last a lifetime. When selecting kitchen tools, even for a home kitchen, it pays to buy the same heavy duty kitchen tools that are used by professionals. Restaurant quality heavy duty kitchen tools get the job done with ease.
*This entire recipe yields 5 Tom-Tom appetizers!
Chicken Tom-Tom Fabrication:
Poultry shears with a bone lopping notch are the best choice. A bone saw or a razor sharp cleaver can be used to lop the end of the bone if the shears have no bone lopping notch. The tendons can be cut with a paring knife, but shears are safer to use.
Lop the ankle joint off of 5 chicken legs.
Pull the skin off of the legs.
Trim the excess fat off.
Cut the ends of the tendons that attach to the bare end of the bone.
Press and slide the meat down the bone as far as it will go, till a plump apple shape of meat is formed around the knee joint.
Clip the exposed tendons off.
Scrape the bone clean with the back of a paring knife.
Ginger Cilantro Marinated Chicken Tom-Toms:
Place 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a mixing bowl.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
Add 2 teaspoons of minced ginger.
Add 4 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro.
Add 1/4 cup of water.
Add 1/4 cup of dry sherry.
Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Add sea salt and white pepper.
Add the 5 Chicken Tom-Toms.
Toss the ingredients together.
Marinate for 2 hours in a refrigerator.
Ginger Cilantro Chicken Tom-Toms:
*A portion of plain white long grain rice will need to be cooked, while the Chicken Tom-Toms are roasting.
Step 1: Remove the Chicken Tom-Toms from the marinade and place them on a roasting pan. (Save the marinade for later in the recipe.)
Press the meat down the bone one last time to adjust the shape.
Stand each Chicken Tom-Toms upright on the roasting pan, so the bone points up.
Step 2: Roast the chicken legs in a 325ºF oven, till they are about three quarters fully cooked.
Step 3: Remove the pan from the oven.
Pour the reserved marinade over the Chicken Tom-Toms.
Step 4: Return the pan to the oven.
Roast until the Chicken Tom-Toms are fully cooked and light brown highlights appear.
Step 5: Remove the pan from the oven.
Place the Chicken Tom-Toms on a dish, and keep them warm on a stove top.
Add 1/2 cup of water to the roasting pan.
Deglaze the pan.
Step 6: Pour the deglace jus from the roasting pan into a small sauce pot over medium heat. (Do not strain this jus! The cilantro bits add character!)
Simmer and reduce till only about 3 ounces of jus remains.
Remove the sauce pot from the heat.
Use a mold to place a portion of cooked plain white rice on the middle of a plate.
Evenly space the Chicken Tom-Toms on the plate around the rice. Try to point the bones in the same direction.
Spoon the ginger cilantro jus over the Chicken Tom-Toms and onto the plate.
Garnish the rice with a cilantro sprig.
These plump Chicken Tom-Toms are a pleasure to eat!