Maple and Cranberry Drumsticks are easy to make and fun to eat. (Renee Comet/For the Washington Post, Food Stylist: Bonnie S. Benwick)

Chicken drumsticks are often relegated to kids' meals, perhaps a notch up from chicken tenders. This is a surprisingly winning and simple preparation — and a nice change from your typical teriyaki marinade — upgraded with an optional trimming technique (not trimmed in the photo above).

Why trim the drumstick ends? Because doing so makes them easy and neat to pick up and eat. As the chicken legs roast, the tendons that are no longer attached to the ends will retract. You can cover the exposed bones with aluminum foil, avoiding sticky fingers.

Keep this recipe in mind as a meaty snack for watching football playoffs.

Maple and Cranberry Drumsticks

4 servings

MAKE AHEAD The chicken needs to marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds chicken drumsticks (lower leg only)

4 tablespoons cranberry sauce or relish

2 tablespoons good-quality maple syrup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried sage (may substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage)

STEPS

Use a sharp chef's knife or cleaver to cut off the end, or ankle, of each drumstick. Discard them. (This step is optional; see the story, above.)

Place the drumsticks in a gallon-size zip-top bag, along with the cranberry sauce or relish, maple syrup, oil, a four-fingered pinch each of the salt and pepper, and the sage. Seal and massage through the bag to coat evenly. Lay the bag in a glass or ceramic baking dish that's large enough to hold the drumsticks in a single layer. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature, turning the bag over a few times, or refrigerate up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Open and pour the contents of the bag into the baking dish, arranging the drumsticks in a single layer. Turn to coat with all the sauce you can extract from the bag. Roast (top rack) for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, using tongs to turn the drumsticks about halfway through the oven time.

Serve warm.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS | Per drumstick: 270 calories, 24 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 180 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar

SOURCE: Adapted from "Harvest: 180 Recipes Through the Seasons," curated by Emilie Guelpa (Hardie Grant, 2017).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to food@washpost.com

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