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Updated Friday, February 1, 2013 at 02:46 PM

Super-size that snack with Buffalo drumsticks

By Nancy Leson
Seattle Times food writer

TALK ABOUT a super bowl.

I had just upped the ante, turning a recipe for spicy Buffalo wings — that famous Super Bowl snack — into a bodacious bowlful of spicy drumsticks.

"This," said my teenage son, pausing for dramatic effect — and to wipe his burning lips — "is the best thing you've ever made."

Boy was my face red.

Because I, too, had reached into the bowl to pluck a fried drumstick slathered with buttery capsicum-fueled sauce. I sunk my teeth into its meaty end and (OK, I admit it) coughed a bit when that bird — kicked up with Frank's hot sauce, Tabasco, cayenne and black pepper — kicked right back.

"Another unfortunate find," nodded my husband, reaching for more while echoing the expression he saves for favorite foodstuffs that (as we sarcastically say) are "so good, and so good for you!"

With Super Bowl Sunday parties in mind, and in honor of Buffalo wing lovers everywhere, I'm bringing out the bullhorn to shout: "Attention Walmart shoppers! Step away from the frozen foods aisle!"

You can do better. And did I mention bigger?

You can also make a terrific blue cheese dressing to go alongside. For that, I tip my cap to cookbook author David Lebovitz, inspiration for this quick trick: Take 4 ounces of crumbled blue cheese and, using a fork, mash it in a small bowl with a hit of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add ¼ cup sour cream (yes, you can use low-fat, but why bother?), ¼ cup buttermilk (or equal parts milk and plain yogurt) and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (no lemon? white vinegar works).

Score one for Mom!

Nancy Leson is The Seattle Times' food writer. Reach her at nleson@seattletimes.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.

Spicy Buffalo Drumsticks

Serves 6 as appetizer, 3-4 for dinner

12 chicken drumsticks (2 ½-3 pounds)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup Frank's Original RedHot Sauce

2 tablespoons Tabasco

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 ½ quarts vegetable oil (for frying)

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ribs celery, cut into thin sticks

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks

Your favorite blue cheese dressing

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in Frank's hot sauce, Tabasco, brown sugar and vinegar. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 2 ½ inches of oil in a large Dutch oven, with a candy thermometer attached to the side, over high heat until oil reaches 360 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, cayenne, black pepper and salt together in a large bowl (or shake in a gallon zip-top freezer bag). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and toss well with this mixture.

3. Add half the drumsticks to the hot oil and fry until golden, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and keep warm while repeating with the remaining drumsticks.

4. Toss drumsticks and sauce together in a large bowl until thoroughly coated. Serve with celery, carrots and blue cheese dressing.

Notes: The fried, unsauced wings can be kept warm in the oven for up to 1 ½ hours. Toss with the sauce just before serving. When deep-frying, it's important to use a high-sided, heavy-bottom pot (my 7-quart Le Creuset allows me to fry a dozen drumsticks in a single batch), keeping the oil between 350 and 360 degrees to ensure crispness.

— Adapted from "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook" (third edition)


BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Saucy-spicy Buffalo drumsticks will win over wing fans.




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