For me, the best thing to do with chicken drumsticks is to throw them on the barbecue, after a few hours of marinating, and to brush them with a sauce just before serving, so that you end up with messy, sticky and tasty chicken. A definite finger food, with lots of napkins a must!
My efforts to use the bottle of Crown Royal up have now ended, but these were so good I might just head out and buy another bottle! I used the whiskey in the marinade and in the barbecue sauce; maple syrup made an appearance in the marinade and barbecue sauce; mustard was used in the marinade and in the rub.
Add some salad and cornbread and dinner on the patio is in order...
To make the marinade, combine:
1/2 cup whisky
1/4 cup maple syrup
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
Stir to dissolve the salt, and then add enough cold water to give you 1 litre of liquid.
Place 18 drumsticks into a large resealable plastic bag.
Pour the marinade over the chicken, and carefully seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible.
Place the sealed bag of chicken and marinade into a dish, just in case the bag leaks!
Place it into the fridge, and leave it for 6 - 8 hours.
When it is time to cook the chicken, remove the drumsticks from the marinade, and rinse them under cold water to remove any excess salt that might remain.
Dry them by patting them with paper towel.
Discard the marinade.
To make the rub, mix together:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sprinkle the rub over the chicken, making sure that all sides are coated.
Allow the chicken to sit with the rub while the grill heats.
Cook the chicken on the hot grill, with the heat turned down, and the lid closed. I like to prop the lid open with a small block of wood to keep the heat from becoming too intense.
Turn the chicken regularly, until the drumsticks are cooked completely.
To make the barbecue sauce, combine the following ingredients, and heat until just bubbling. I have given approximate measurements for you to use, but adjust the sweetness and acidity to suit your tastes. Add chipotle chili, ancho chili or cayenne pepper if you want a spicier barbecue sauce.
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup whisky
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Brush some of the barbecue sauce onto the chicken, and allow it to cook for another 5 minutes, before removing it from the grill.
Serve the chicken, passing the remaining barbecue sauce at the table. Don't forget those napkins!!!
- This type of marinade is more like a brine...lots of liquid and salt, with some sweetness and other flavours added. A basic brine is water and salt, but other liquids can be used instead, or as part of the water. Try cold tea, coffee, juice (adjust the sugar amount), alcohol such as wine, beer, rum or whisky. Always taste the brine before adding the raw meat; you want it to taste salty with a hint of sweetness.
- Any type of sugar can be used in a brine...brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup and the natural sweetness in fruit juice.
- The flavour profile you choose is all about what you have to use and what you like...herbs, spices, citrus juice or zest, soy sauce (adjust the amount of salt used), coconut milk.
- The brine is optional, but I find it adds flavour, tenderness and moisture to the meat.
- The reason I leave the meat to sit with the rub while the grill heats is that the moisture from the chicken starts to dissolve the brown sugar, and it turns the brine into a wet paste, which caramelizes a bit during cooking.
- You can turn the dry rub into a wet paste by simply adding a small amount of liquid to it before rubbing it onto the chicken. You can also intensify the mustard in the recipe by lightly brushing the chicken with your favourite mustard before pressing the dry rub onto the drumsticks.
- The barbecue sauce is a quick 'cheat' recipe that I often use. The ketchup provides the base for the sauce, and adds the sweetness and texture that is needed. Adding apple cider vinegar gives the acidity that barbecue sauce has in the background, and the whisky and maple syrup give this sauce the flavour that I wanted. Cumin is a must; chili powder can also be added. From there, it's a simple matter of adjusting the sauce to your liking...we tend to prefer a sweeter sauce.
- A storebought barbecue sauce can be used, and whisky can be added to it before brushing it onto the chicken.
- Other meats can be used with this brine, rub and sauce...chicken wings, breasts or whole chicken; pork loin or chops.
- The meat can be placed into the brine and frozen for another time. Defrost in the fridge overnight before continuing on with the recipe.
- Cooking the chicken with the heat low and the barbecue closed turns it into an oven, but the heat will continue to increase and the chicken will burn on the outside before it is fully cooked. That is the reason I prop it open with a small block of wood. This allows some of the excess heat to escape, while still maintaining the effect of an oven. If you prefer to cook with the heat up high and the lid open, that also works. The closed lid method is my preference.
- If you don't have real maple syrup, use brown sugar or honey instead.