If you have friends gathering for the game this weekend, treat them with these spicy chicken drumsticks. Although the flavors are similar to those found in traditional Buffalo wings, right down to the celery and blue cheese, using a slow cooker to prepare this dish means you can do all the prep work in advance and have plenty of time to enjoy the game.
Spicy Buffalo-Style Chicken
5 lb. (2.5 kg) chicken drumsticks, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. olive oil
1⁄2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, chopped
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
6 tablespoons (3 oz./90 g) tomato paste
1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) beer
1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) Crystal hot sauce, Frank’s RedHot sauce, or other medium-spicy hot sauce
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
For the celery–blue cheese salad:
3 celery hearts, including the leafy tops, very thinly sliced
7 green onions, including the light green tops, thinly sliced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2⁄3 cup (3 1⁄2 oz./105 g) crumbled blue cheese
Pat the chicken thoroughly dry and season all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain briefly, then transfer to a slow cooker.
Pour off some of the fat from the frying pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chiles, and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Pour in the beer, hot sauce, and vinegar and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the low setting for about 5 hours. The chicken should be tender.
Transfer the chicken to a plate. Using a large spoon, skim off the fat from the braising liquid. Transfer the liquid to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a frying pan, place over medium heat, and stir in the brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and glossy, about 10 minutes. Return the drumsticks to the sauce and simmer until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the celery hearts, green onions, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to taste. Toss well. Fold in the blue cheese.
Divide the celery and blue cheese salad among individual plates. Arrange the drumsticks alongside the salad and serve immediately, passing additional sauce at the table. Serves 6.
Find more fresh and satisfying recipes for your slow cooker in our The New Slow Cooker, by Brigit Binns.