Mario Batali's Spicy Black Pepper-Coated Drumsticks
An Italian Spin on Finger Food
Mario Batali joined "Good Morning America" to celebrate his sixth cookbook, "Italian Grill." Batali showed the anchors how to prepare his Spicy Black Pepper-Coated Drumsticks, or as he likes to say "buffalo wings go to Italy:" drumsticks in a spicy buttermilk marinade, red wine Gorgonzola dressing, and fennel sticks standing in for the celery. Set out bowls of the sauce for dipping, or let guests spoon it over their chicken and fennel. Either way, everyone will be very happy.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the drumsticks on a baking sheet and season all over with salt. Bake unadorned for 20 minutes (25 minutes if your drumsticks are very large).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Set a wire rack over a large plate or a small baking sheet.
As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven, toss them, in batches, into the buttermilk mixture and turn to coat, then place skin side up on the rack to drain. Spoon a little of the mixture, with the fennel seeds and pepper, over the top of each one, and set aside. (The drumsticks can be baked and marinated up to a day ahead; leave them on the rack, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.)
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim the fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise in half, and cut out most of the core. Cut into ¼-inch-wide batonettes and toss into a bowl of ice water.
Crumble the Gorgonzola into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the red wine vinegar and stir with the fork until fairly smooth. Drizzle in the oil, stirring, to make a dressing. Pour into one or more shallow bowls for dipping.
Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill, cover the grill, and cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to caramelize, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
Put the drumsticks on a platter. Drain the fennel sticks, pat dry, and place on the platter next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing.