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Spicy Black-Pepper-Coated Drumsticks

Spicy Black-Pepper-Coated Drumsticks


  • 12 chicken drumsticks

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco-brand sauce, preferably chipotle flavor

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a spice grinder or coffee grinder

  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 fennel bulbs

  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce cheese

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Place the drumsticks on a baking sheet and season them all over with salt. Bake unadorned for 20 minutes (25 minutes if your drumsticks are very large). Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl, stir together the buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, fennel seeds and black pepper. Set a wire rack over a large plate or a small baking sheet. As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven, toss them, in batches, into the buttermilk mixture and turn to coat, then place skin side up on the rack to drain. Spoon a little of the mixture, with the fennel seeds and pepper, over the top of each one and set aside. (The drumsticks can be baked and marinated up to a day ahead; leave them on the rack, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.) Pre-heat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Trim the fennel bulbs: cut them lengthwise in half and cut out most of the core. Cut them into 1/4-inch-wide batonettes and toss into a bowl of ice water. Crumble the Gorgonzola chees into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the red wine vinegar and stir with the fork until fairly smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil, stirring, to make a dressing. Pour into one or more shallow bowls for dipping. Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill, cover the grill and cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to caramelize, until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Put the drumsticks on a platter. Drain the fennel sticks, pat them dry and place them on the platter next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing. Tip: Grinding Black Pepper

Some recipes call for a large amount of pepper, several tablespoons or so. Even if you often use a spice (or coffee) grinder to grind spices like cumin or fennel seeds, you may never have thought of grinding pepper this way. The spice grinder seems to release even more of the fragrant oils and it’s quick and easy when you need a lot of ground pepper. Pepper should always be freshly ground, whether in a pepper mill or a spice grinder, so it’s best to grind just the amount the recipe calls for (though if you do have a bit left over, you can store it in a tightly sealed jar to use within a day or so).