Tailgate-Style Chicken Legs
by Molly Stevens, Cooking Teacher & Author of "All About Roasting", Burlington, Vermont
Serves 8 to 10 (as a snack or appetizer)
Turn drumsticks into something even better than Buffalo-style wings by seasoning them with an alluring spice blend and serving alongside a creamy blue cheese dip. Meatier—and healthier—than traditional wings, you can spice these up with a little hot sauce before serving, or leave them as is. Either way, be sure to season the chicken at least 8, and up to 24 hours, ahead. As with Buffalo wings, carrot and celery sticks make a fine accompaniment.
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1½ teaspoons cumin seed, coarsely ground
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed
- 12 Smart Chicken drumsticks (about 4 pounds)
- Blue Cheese Dip
- 1 cup crumbled domestic blue cheese
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- Hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Texas Pete’s, for serving
Pre-season the chicken: In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and celery seed. Arrange the drumsticks on a rimmed baking sheet, and season all over with the spice mix. Turn the chicken pieces to coat evenly, doing your best to pick up any stray spices. Cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 8, and up to 18, hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (or 375°F convection). Lightly brush a clean rimmed baking sheet with oil (or spray with cooking spray). Arrange the chicken legs on the baking sheet (there’s no need to rinse or wipe off the spices). Roast in the oven, flipping the legs after about 12 minutes, until nicely browned and tender, about 35 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a leg should read 180°F to 190°F.
Meanwhile, prepare the dip: Combine the cheese, buttermilk, mayonnaise, and vinegar in a food processor, and pulse until nearly smooth. Season to taste with plenty of black pepper and salt as needed (depending on the saltiness of the cheese, you may not need any additional salt). The dip may be made up to 24 hours ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.
Transfer the chicken legs to a platter or individual plates. Drizzle over any pan drippings. (For spicy wings, splash with a few drops of hot sauce.) Serve warm or hot, with the blue cheese dip on the side or drizzled over the top.