Tamarind Madeira Glazed Drumsticks-MainPhoto

Tamarind Madeira Glazed Drumsticks-MainPhoto

These drumsticks are perfect for a romantic movie night with someone special or just a casual evening with friends when you want something fun and finger-licking good, but that still has a sophisticated flavor profile that will impress your buds. I recently made them for just such an evening, and every last one was quickly devoured. To turn these from an appetizer or a snack into meal, just add a veggie side and a salad.

Tamarind has a sweet and sour flavor that is very acidic, which makes it the perfect base for a BBQ-like glaze. It’s commonly used in many parts of Latin America, as well as in India and Southeast Asia. It is available in many grocery stores, but as it is common to many cuisines, remember to check other ethnic food aisles if you can’t find it right away in the Latin foods section. If all else fails, you can always find it online. Tamarind paste is extremely concentrated, so a little bit will go a long way, and the rest will keep well in the refrigerator for quite some time.

Madeira adds the next layer of flavor to the sauce. This is one of my favorite fortified wines. It was initially developed for shipping on long sea voyages setting out from Portugal to the Colonies throughout the New World, as well as to the rest of Europe. Adding a small amount of spirits to the wine preserved the wine and protected it from the excessive heat and jolting the wine would be exposed to over the course of a long trip. The upshot of this is that the wine is shelf staple, and unlike even other fortified wines like Port, you can keep this wine around forever and it won’t go bad even after opening. So go ahead and get yourself a decent bottle you like, use a little bit to cook with, and save the rest to sip as an occasional dessert treat. Plus, all the other ingredients are pretty inexpensive.

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There are several kinds of Madeira, so be sure to get either a Bual (sometimes appears as Boal) or Malmsey (also known as Malvasia). These varieties have more sweetness and concentrated flavors of candied orange zest, toasted nuts, and burnt sugar that complement the tang of the tamarind. Smoked paprika and chilies add a little extra heat and depth of flavor.

You’re going to want to dive into these!

Makes: 12 drumsticks or 3 to 4 entrée servings


For Chicken
12 chicken drumsticks
2 TBSP cooking oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Tamarind-Madeira Glaze
½ large onion, or 1 medium onion, chopped in large chunks
1 TBSP flour
1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
¼ cup Madeira, Bual or Malmsey style
2 cups chicken stock
1/8 cup tamarind paste
2 TBSP honey
1/8 TSP smoked paprika (if you don’t have smoked paprika, regular paprika can be substituted)
Pinch of chili powder
1 jarred chili, finely chopped, seeds removed
Cooking oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For Green Onion Sour Cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 TBSP of green onion or chives, finely chopped
½ cup of sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Rinse drumsticks and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 TBSP cooking oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add drumsticks to the pan in batches and sear well on all sides until golden brown. Be careful not to crowd the pan or the drumsticks will not brown nicely. As drumsticks are seared, set aside on paper towels to drain off any excess oil.

For the Tamarind-Madeira Glaze

  1. Drain off excess oil and remove any excessively brown bits from the frying pan used to sear the chicken.
  2. Return the pan to the stove and add onion chunks to the pan. Brown lightly over medium heat.
  3. Add the flour to the pan to coat the onion. The flour will help to thicken the sauce.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the Madeira, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon or a spatula
  5. Toss in the garlic clove and then add the chicken stock.
  6. Stir in the tamarind paste. Allow the sauce to simmer over medium-high heat until reduced down enough that the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  7. Remove the onion chunks and the garlic clove.
  8. Stir in the honey, smoked paprika, chili powder, and chopped chili.
  9. Allow the sauce to reduce just a little further, until it reaches the consistency of a thick glaze.
  10. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary.
  11. Remove the sauce from heat.

To Finish the Chicken

  1. Toss the drumsticks in the sauce to coat well. Set any remaining sauce aside.
  2. Place the drumsticks on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  3. Roast the drumsticks in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted to the thickest part of the meat reads 165°F.
  4. Remove the chicken from oven. Brush on any remaining sauce.
  5. Tent the chicken with foil and allow to rest for approximately 10 min.

For the Green Onion Sour Cream

  1. Stir together the crushed garlic, green onions or chives, and the sour cream.
  2. Serve with the drumsticks.