Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce is my go-to brand (both spellings are correct!). For the blue cheese dip, the ultimate is Cabrales, an artisanal blue from Asturias, Spain. And for even more flavor, I’m replacing celery sticks with fresh fennel. The only prep work—still fast and easy—is the marinade for the drumsticks. Since they need time to absorb all the spices, I like to do this early in the day.
For the drumsticks
- 2 tablespoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 meaty chicken drumsticks
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Large fennel bulb
For the glaze
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce or your favorite hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the dip
- 1/2 cup crumbled Cabrales or other artisanal blue cheese
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Combine the pimentón and other spices in a small bowl. Place the drumsticks in a large bowl (or a large resealable plastic bag) and coat them with olive oil. Add the spice mixture and use your hands to distribute it evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
To cook, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then top with a wire rack. Oil the rack and arrange the drumsticks on it. Bake until cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice with tongs. (Alternatively, you can grill the drumsticks.)
While the chicken is cooking, make the dip and the glaze. For the dip, mash the blue cheese in a bowl with a fork. Whisk in the sour cream, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce. If desired, thin with the milk or cream. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
For the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the piri-piri sauce and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. When the drumsticks are cooked through, remove from the oven, brush on all sides with the glaze, and return to the oven for 5 minutes to set.
To plate, trim the fennel bulb, reserving the feathery fronds. Cut in half lengthwise, remove the core, and then slice each half into small wedges. Arrange them on a platter with the drumsticks, garnish with the fronds, and serve with the dip.
Yields 4 appetizers or 2 hearty main dish servings.