Drumsticks with Mystery Sauce

2016-01-22 18.04.19RECIPE #172, DAY #209

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Mystery Chicken” from 365 Slow Cooker Suppers, by Stephanie O’Dea*

TIMING: About a half-hour

DIFFICULTY: Fairly easy

TOOLS: A baking pan with a rack and a 2 basting brushes


HEALTH: If you consider chicken drumsticks to be part of a nutritious diet, then consider this a healthy dinner or barbecue entree. Mostly, it’s a quite acceptable and affordable protein.

EXPERIENCE: Yeah, Stephanie O’Dea has a real ritzy way of naming things. Well, maybe it was only this recipe, but who on earth would want to eat “Mystery Chicken?” Even though I kept the word “Mystery” to refer to the sauce, I am second-guessing myself. Although I can appreciate wanting to keep the sauce ingredients secret. Perhaps, “Secret Sauce”?

We were pretty happy with the sauce, although it would rank below a quality barbecue sauce and isn’t a terribly different experience except for an added tang. What we were not happy with was the slow cooker method for chicken. I have pretty much decided that there are only certain things that should be cooked in a slow cooker, and they are roasts, stews, and soups. And even those would be limited. This chicken–and all the other entree chickens we have tested–turn out texturally off-putting… like sort of grainy and mushy with none of the beautiful caramelization you look for in a nice piece of meat.

So for your benefit and ours, I changed this recipe to work for the oven instead. To me, it would be much better to throw the meat in the oven when I get home and then whip up a quick sauce, rather than eat mushy meat. I mean, it’s not really any more work, just slightly different timing.

NOTES: Of course you could do this with bone-on, skin-on thighs, wings, or breasts, as well. I would stick to the dark meat, though. You will have to adjust bake time accordingly, to get the meat in the center to 165F.


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup ranch dressing, 2 tablespoons hot sauce, and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Set aside.
  3. Pat dry 1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken and place on a rack in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, then brush liberally with sauce and place back in oven for about 10 more minutes until internal temp is 165F.
  4. Meanwhile, do not return basting brush to sauce. Put sauce in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until syrupy. Apply more sauce before serving.

Serve with all sorts of things, like potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, pickled veggies…

*Recipe changed from the original.


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