Spicy Buffalo-Style Chicken

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 345 minutes
Servings: 6

Although the flavors of this dish are similar to those found in traditional buffalo wings, right down to the celery and blue cheese, the chipotle chiles in this recipe give the chicken an additional kick (dial down the quantity if you’d prefer a milder dish). Using a slow cooker turns economical chicken drumsticks fall-off-the-bone tender.


  • 5 lb. (2.5 kg) chicken drumsticks, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) tomato paste
  • 1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) beer
  • 1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) Crystal hot sauce, Frank’s RedHot sauce, or other medium-spicy hot sauce
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

For the celery–blue cheese salad:

  • 3 celery hearts, including the leafy tops, very thinly sliced
  • 7 green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2⁄3 cup (3 1⁄2 oz./105 g) crumbled blue cheese


Pat the chicken thoroughly dry and season all over with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When the oil is hot, working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken and sear, turning as needed, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain briefly, then transfer to a slow cooker.

Pour off some of the fat from the fry pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chiles and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Pour in the beer, hot sauce, and vinegar and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the low setting for about 5 hours. The chicken should be tender.

Transfer the chicken to a plate. Using a large spoon, skim off the fat from the braising liquid. Transfer the liquid to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a fry pan, place over medium heat and stir in the brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and glossy, about 10 minutes. Return the drumsticks to the sauce and simmer until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the celery hearts, green onions, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to taste. Toss well. Fold in the blue cheese.

Divide the celery and blue cheese salad among individual plates. Arrange the drumsticks alongside the salad and serve immediately, passing additional sauce at the table. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker: Fresh Recipes for the Modern Cook, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010)

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