South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Wings
The wings have awaken! Yes, it's January, the month where I drop all other grilling and devote my attention to one of favorite things in the world—chicken wings. I currently have fifteen wing recipes on the blog, and I could probably keep doing variations of these crispy, juicy, tasty morsels until the end of time. I wanted to start my month of wings off strong, and I'm confident that these South Carolina mustard wings will deliver for you as well as they did for me.
These wings were born out of my South Carolina mustard ribs experimentation. I worked to get the rub and sauce pairing on those just right, so while I both on hand, I figured I might as well see how the combo fared on wings as well as ribs.
I started with a couple tablespoons of the sweet rub—a little extra sugar to balance out the bite of the mustard—and added to it a tablespoon of baking powder. The baking powder is nothing new for longtime readers, but those newbies out there, it aids in developing a browned, crispy, and textured skin that make grilled or baked wings hold their own against fried ones.
I then patted the wings dry with paper towels and coated them liberally in the seasoning. Because I wanted to prominently feature the rub, I went heavier on the seasoning than I normally do when using my usual wing combo of just salt and baking powder alone.
The second component in achieving nice and crunchy wings is allowing them to air dry. It takes a minimum of eight hours sitting on a wire rack in the refrigerator for moisture in the skin the evaporate, so it pays to plan ahead as this step is pretty crucial—you could skip it, but you'll inevitably wind up with flabbier skin.
If all done right, after about 45 minutes over indirect high heat, the wings should be a beautiful mahogany, crispy, and develop light caramelization like mine did in the photo above. The color and char is thanks to the combo of paprika and sugars in the rub. If you want a little extra char for that unique grilled flavor, you can move the wings over direct heat for a little bit, just keep a close eye on them because they can burn quickly.
At this point, all that was left was to transfer the wings to a bowl and toss them with my South Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce—a recipe I recently tinkered with to make it all the better.
Now I love a great ribs, and those South Carolina mustard ribs were mighty fine, but for my money, the rub and sauce was even better on wings. I think the light flavor of the meat combined with the crackling skin let the seasoning and sauce stand out more and added a texture that made what was already a great pairing into something really irresistible. The final wings had the hallmarks of barbecue—they were sweet, tangy, spicy, and complex with the added unique mustard bite that makes it such a compelling alternative to ketchup. If you're looking for a great barbecue wing, you'd be hard pressed to get much better than these.
South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Wings
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 20 Minutes
- Inactive 8 Hours
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 9 Hours 5 Minutes
- For the Wings
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
- For the Sauce
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce, preferably Texas Pete
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 chunk of medium smoking wood, such as oak or pecan
- For the wings: In a small bowl, mix together baking powder, brown sugar, Kosher salt, turbinado sugar, paprika, celery salt, granulated garlic, chili powder, mustard powder, black pepper, cumin, and onion powder. Place wings in a large bowl and sprinkle in spice mixture, tossing to evenly coat, until liberally seasoned. Arrange wings in a single layer on wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, leaving a little space between each wing. Place baking sheet with wings in refrigerator for 8 hours to overnight.
- For the Sauce: Whisk together mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, black pepper, and white pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside. Sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to month.
- 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 grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place wood chunk directly on the coals. Place the wings skin side up over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are crisp and and browned, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer wings to a large bowl. Add in sauce and toss to thoroughly coat wings. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.
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David Somerville Holy *&$^, Josh! Those look amazing!
Pat Moriarty Has any one tried these in an air fryer? If so any changes to cook time etc would you recomend?
Josh @Pat Moriarty I haven't tried this with frying, but from past experience, spices can burn in the hot oil. You may want to try frying the wings, then coating with the spices followed by the sauce. It won't be exactly the same end result, but it'll probably still taste great.