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Spicy black pepper-coated drumsticks

Spicy black pepper-coated drumsticks

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut into 1-by-3/4-inch sticks

12 chicken drumsticks

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons chipotle or other hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a spice or coffee grinder

4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Makes 6 servings.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fennel sticks in a large bowl; cover with water. Set aside. Place the drumsticks on a baking sheet; season with the salt. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the buttermilk, hot pepper sauce, pepper and fennel seeds in a medium bowl.

Toss the drumsticks, in batches, into the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat; place the drumsticks skin-side-up on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Spoon a little of the mixture, with the pepper and fennel seeds, over each drumstick; set aside.

Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Crumble the Gorgonzola into a small bowl; mash with a fork. Add the vinegar, stirring until fairly smooth. Drizzle in the oil, stirring. Pour into shallow bowls for dipping.

Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill; cover grill. Cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to brown, until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the drumsticks to a platter. Drain the reserved fennel sticks; pat dry. Place next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing.

Note: Look for Gorgonzola dolce in specialty cheese shops or some supermarkets; regular Gorgonzola or another blue cheese can be substituted.

Nutrition information per serving: 479 calories, 67 percent of calories from fat, 36 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 112 mg cholesterol, 7 g carbohydrates, 33 g protein, 580 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

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