Some cuts of meat just seem destined for particular cooking techniques. Case in point—the chicken drumstick. And because the skin and bone protect the meat from overcooking, drumsticks are perfect for smoking or grilling. Plus, thanks to the connective tissue, the meat itself can withstand a longer cook time. It really is the perfect BBQ algorithm. For this recipe, we’re going to rub our chicken with a spice blend similar to that applied to Tasso— a cajun style cured meat made from the pork shoulder. This ham is rubbed with paprika and cayenne, and fresh thyme and garlic are applied before it’s slow-smoked. We’re going to do something similar with our leg quarters to elicit that same flavor profile from our leaner protein.
Fortunately, our chicken drumsticks don't need to be cured overnight—it really only needs to be rubbed down a few hours before cooking. So we’re going to work the salt and sugar into the blend the same day we cook. Chicken ‘tasso’ can be grilled or smoked, but, honestly—with all of that crispy delicious skin that develops on the chargrill—grilling is the best way to go with this recipe. I love smoked chicken, but the skin usually never crisps on a smoker, which is a real bummer.
White BBQ sauce is an Alabama thing, and boy am I grateful to whoever came up with it. It’s tangy and rich—a mayonnaise- and vinegar-based sauce that is traditionally served on smoked chicken. And it truly is the perfect accompaniment to our chicken Tasso. It’s also really easy to whip up. And I like to make it a few hours ahead of time so that the flavors have a moment to meld.
What You'll Need
4 Grass Roots pasture-raised Chicken Drumsticks
3 T paprika, 1 1/2 t cayenne, 1 t granulated onion, 1 1/2 T kosher salt, and 1 t fresh cracked pepper
1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped and 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
For the Sauce
1 C mayonnaise
3 T cider vinegar
1 T horseradish powder, or prepared horseradish
1 T smoked paprika, 1 T cracked black pepper, 1 t cayenne pepper, and 1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 t honey
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and keep refrigerated. Can be made three days ahead of time.
Mix all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl.
Place the drumsticks in the bowl one at a time and coat with the seasoning thoroughly.
Refrigerate the drumsticks for at least two hours and up to six before cooking.
Ready a char grill by heating the coals. Place the drumsticks on the grate directly over the coals and cook until they reach proper doneness, reading 165 degrees away from the bone. Throughout the cooking process, be sure to move the drumsticks around, caramelizing the skin and rub, and maximizing the flavor. Serve drizzled with White BBQ sauce.