Grilled Bacon Wrapped Chicken Drumsticks
This is a simple, grilled bacon wrapped chicken drumsticks recipe that is easy to make and easy to love. Come on! What is better than bacon wrapping food? Think scallops are yummy? Wrap 'em in bacon and they are even better! You can wrap vegetables, you can wrap beef, and you can wrap chicken.
The thing I love about this recipe is that it is easy to execute yet delivers a lot of bold grilled flavor that most people (ok, maybe not vegetarians or red chicken meat haters) will drool over. The key is that chicken drumsticks themselves are a pretty tasty cut of meat that doesn't require a lot of additional flavors to be juicy, tender and delicious. Well when you wrap that up in some good, thick-sliced gourmet bacon, the smokey, salty and savory qualities are all just amped up that much more.
Of note, these bacon wrapped chicken drumsticks could certainly be made very similarly in an oven, but you'd probably miss a bit of the smokey goodness that the real wood smoke in a charcoal grill gives you. Smoking woods really shine with bacon so don't leave those out if you can help it!
What you will need:
- Chicken drumsticks, preferably free-range organic, skin left on for maximum flavor
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Any other seasonings you'd like to throw on there: I used a simple mix of garlic and onion powders and just a hint of fresh or dried finger-rubbed thyme.
- Thick sliced gourmet bacon: You can use any bacon you like but I prefer a nice thick-cut quality bacon with lots of flavor. Smoked types in particular.
How to cook it:
- First of all, let your chicken come up to room temperature. While it is sitting, prepare a simple spice/herb seasoning for the chicken. Really, you can just use salt and pepper if you'd like. I typically use just a few dashes of onion and garlic powder and a hint of a savory herb like thyme, marjoram, or the like to add a bit more flavor. Mix these together in a bowl. Alternatively, you can use a small amount of any poultry seasoning mix you like but I think simplicity is the key here, the bacon and chicken are already a lot of flavor so you don't need to hide it with too complex flavors.
- When your chicken is roughly room temp, drizzle them very lightly with extra virgin olive oil and rub into the drumsticks. You don't need a lot, the bacon will throw off fat as it cooks to further flavor and glaze the chicken. Rub a bit of the spice mix into the chicken over all the surfaces and then season generously with salt and pepper (the salt is important to bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients), gently pressing the seasoning into the surface of the chicken.
- Finally, wrap each drumstick with a slice of bacon, wrapping around a couple times to cover much of the surface of the chicken meat. You can then secure the ends of the bacon with a tooth pick. If you have smaller drumsticks, you may prefer to use only half of a slice of bacon. Of note, in some bacon wrapped recipes, the bacon is partially cooked first. This is particularly important if you are wrapping a food which cooks quickly and would be done long before the bacon was done and crispy, such as bacon wrapped scallops or asparagus. In the case of bacon wrapped chicken, the chicken will cook for 15-25 minutes or more to be done throughout so the bacon will have ample time to crisp up without having to pre-cook at all.
- Prepare a grill set up for indirect heat cooking. You want to adjust your grill to get a nice hot but moderate temp, ideally in the 400-450 degree range. If it is too cool, the chicken will take a long time to cook and the bacon may not crisp up nicely. If too hot, you'll start burning the edges of the bacon wrapped chicken before the inside of the chicken is done fully.
- Once your grill is ready, throw those bad boys on there, on indirect heat, add your desired smoking wood and close the lid. For smoking woods, you can use anything really. Bacon and chicken are both great with a sweet smoke like apple wood but the bold flavor of the bacon can easily stand up to hickory or mesquite as well.
- Grill the drumsticks approximately 15 to 25 minutes until they are cooked to an adequate temperature throughout. The exact time will vary depending on the temperature of your grill, the size of your drumsticks and other factors. As they cook, only open the lid to check on them periodically, keeping it closed as much as possible to retain heat and that yummy smoke. If they look like the surface is drying out a bit (not too likely since the bacon throws off a lot of fat) you can baste them gently with a small amount of olive oil once or twice.
- That is pretty much it! I told you these bacon wrapped chicken drumsticks were easy! Simply take them off, cover then in foil and let them rest 5 minutes or so and then serve them up with your favorite sides; rice, beans, grilled veggies and more all make excellent accompaniment. And don't forget to warn your guests about the toothpick so that they don't stab themselves in the mouth!!!
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