Tue Nov 29, 2011
With Thanksgiving now behind and little respite before Christmas madness starts sweeping in, this is the time of year I start kicking back and spending the early nights in front of the glowing television transmitting the only winter sport I really care about, basketball. It's a down right dirty shame that this isn't happening right now, and instead have found myself stuck in a waiting pattern with cautious optimism that resolution will be one of the many gifts on Christmas day. While I may have temporarily lost part of my ritual, there other half of this equation is always some sort of bar food—be that wings, skins, nachos, etc—and I see no reason to turn my back on those. With so many games a (normal) year, I've amassed an arsenal of wing recipes to pull from, one of the tops being these Jerk chicken wings.
I'm a sucker for jerk seasoning. First, almost anything with habanero will make me swoon—that mixture of extreme heat and a little fruitiness makes this my favorite of the pepper family.
Second, I continually find the complex mixture of herbs and spices that comprise a jerk sauce exciting. There's so much to dissect in this distinctive sauce—onion, garlic, thyme, allspice, lime, nutmeg cinnamon, and more. The layers upon layers of flavors means each bite can provide a different experience that puts jerk-anything on a pedestal for me.
Jerk wings is one of my favorite carriers of the sauce though, since the high service area just means more sauce. Some may find this a bit overwhelming, but I say bring it on!
The wings are first left to marinate in the sauce overnight to make sure it gets well embedded into the skin and meat. Then they're threaded onto skewers and grilled over hot coals arranged in a two-zone fire until well browned. A finishing cook over indirect heat cooks the chicken through and creates a darkened, semi-crisp crust of pure jerk goodness.
I'll be the first to admit, it's all about the jerk here. The heavily coated wings bear all the flavors of the sauce, with the small amount juicy chicken tempering that spicy mixture slightly. To me, this is fantastic—the more jerk, the better. I love getting a mouthful of that earthy, herbal heat, and these wings deliver on that big time. If that's not your thing, then use the marinade on whole chicken pieces instead and follow the same cooking procedure, but for jerks like myself, it doesn't get much better than this.
Jerk Chicken Wings
Adapted from Gourmet.
- Prep Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 8 Hours
- Cook Time:
- 30 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 8 Hours 40 Minutes
- Serves 4
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 scallions, roughly chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 lbs whole chicken wings
- Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes prior to using
- Place onion, scallion, garlic, habaneros, lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, salt, brown sugar, thyme, allspice, black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth.
- Place chicken wings in a large Ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible and refrigerate overnight to 24 hours.
- Remove chicken from the refrigerator. Thread wings onto skewers lengthwise, spreading wings out to their full length. Let chicken come to room temperature while preparing grill.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place wings pieces on the hot side of the grill and cook until well browned on all sides, about 3-5 minutes. Move chicken to cool side of the grill, cover, and continue to cook until darkly browned and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes more. Remove from grill, allow to cool for 5 minutes, and serve.