Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Grilled Jerk Chicken Wings

I love making crispy hot wings. Wait, that's a lie. I like eating crispy hot wings. But making them's quite a chore. You've got to get a big vat of shortening splattering hot and the smell permeates the entire house and there's loads of splatter to clean up afterwards, even if you've used a pan splatter guard. So, when we bought a big value pack of wings, I fried up half of them and put the rest in the freezer. A couple weeks later, I defrosted them and decided I was way too lazy to do another fry up.

I didn't want to do regular barbecue wings because we'd just had some barbecue drumsticks the week before. Then, I realized this was a perfect opportunity to use another habanero pepper from the garden. I made a jerk marinade with the flavors I remembered and recognized from a meal I enjoyed in the Caribbean, and it turned out quite good.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1½ lbs. chicken wings
½ onion
2 scallions
3 cloves garlic
1 habanero pepper
1 orange, juiced
3 sprigs cilantro
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin

*Normally, jerk seasoning has some heat in it, like cayenne, but because there's a habanero pepper in here, I omitted that added layer of heat. If you like a lot of heat, throw in an extra habanero or add some cayenne to your jerk seasoning. If you're sensitive to spicy foods, I would suggest omitting the habanero and adding in a little cayenne.

Start by chucking all of the ingredients, except for the chicken, into a food processor and whizz up into a puree.
Pour the marinade over the chicken (I use a ziptop bag) and marinate for 48 hours. The acid in the marinade will help to tenderize the chicken and the flavors will really penetrate the meat.
When you're ready to eat, fire up the grill.
Grill the chicken until it's cooked through and lightly charred. If you're nervous about undercooking chicken, test with a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat (but careful not to touch the bone) and make sure it's 165F.
Plate up the wings, sprinkle with a little cilantro, and serve. Optionally, heat up any leftover marinade to serve as a dipping sauce. Honestly though, with the two-day marinade time, you won't miss the sauce.
For accompaniments, I made beans & rice (with pink beans) and sauteed kale with baby bell peppers. The kale wasn't quite callaloo, but it was a nice, leafy side dish.
The chicken was spicy - both in terms of heat and actual spices - and a perfect combination of sweet and savory. The meat was nice and tender, I loved the charred bits of skin, and I appreciated that the marinade flavor went through the entire wing. It was one of those meals where we got really messy, digging in with our hands, ripping the meat away with our teeth.

You could certainly use this marinade with your preferred cut of chicken - drumsticks would be great - but I'm partial to wings because I love dark meat and because they're smaller so the marinade really makes its way through to the center of the meat.
Here's the recipe page:

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