Chicken Wings Inasal
TGIJ: Thank god it's January, otherwise known at The Meatwave as Wing Month! For those new to the blog, I devote the first month of each new year entirely to one of my favorite foods—chicken wings. It always feels like an arduous wait to get here though because I develop these wing recipes throughout the year and then sit on them until we hit January, and these are usually some of my favorite things I've cooked, making holding off on sharing them pretty tough. But alas, Wing Month has arrived and the chicken will floweth for five glorious weeks, starting off with these Filipino-inspired chicken wings inasal.
After discovering how to make super crispy wings on the grill, I continued to use the same method consistently, shunning everything else. That included not using marinades at all, which grew to feel limiting, so last Wing Month I freed myself from my self-imposed shackles and began marinating wings again to equally great results as my usual method. That left me with no fear when starting these wings off by making achiote oil to serve as the base of a marinade.
This achiote oil starts off with oil and the achiote (aka annatto) seeds, but layers on common Filipino flavors too like garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and bay leaves. After bringing to a simmer and allowing to steep, I drained the solids and was left with an orange-hued, well infused lemony and garlicky oil that would start the marinade off on the right foot.
Then, to create the final marinade, to the achiote oil I added calamansi juice, coconut vinegar, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and a little brown sugar followed by seasoning it with salt and pepper to taste. If you're not familiar with Filipino flavors, this marinade is a pretty ubiquitous example having a strong garlicky tang which is a hallmark of many dishes, with the supporting components coming together to really deliver a powerhouse taste.
After finishing the marinade, I placed the wings in a large resealable bag, poured in the liquid, sealed, and tossed a bit to throughly coat the chicken in the sauce. I then set the bag in the fridge to marinate overnight.
For so many years now, I thought I'd only get crispy wing skin if I air dried the chicken, starting them cooking with as little exterior moisture as possible. That certainly is the recipe for the crispiest of crispy skins, but oil-based marinades, such as this one, are also a path to that ideal crunchy exterior that I crave. Just as if you'd fried them, that oil will help crisp up the skin during the long time that wings require to cook.
And indeed, once I hit the 45 minutes of cooking time needed over indirect heat, the wings looked beautifully browned with a great crackling skin. I couldn't wait to try them, so plated these up, garnished them with scallions to make for prettier photos, and then dug in before even any of my guests arrived.
It would be a shame if I continued on my trend of never marinating wings because I would have missed out on these excellent specimens. A garlicky tang was the most prominent characteristic here, being well embedded in the meat and the skin. But the wings had really nice nuances too, like a bright lemony taste, mellow peppery bite, and citrusy notes that gave depth to the tartness. The meat was also still incredibly juicy and the skin had a commendable crunch to deliver that pleasing wing equation. More than anything though, I'm just super excited that wing month has finally come, and this recipe that I made back in September finally gets to see the light of day...and there's still four more equally delicious wings still in store!
Chicken Wings Inasal
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 20 Minutes
- Inactive 7 Hours
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 8 Hours 5 Minutes
- For the Achiote Oil
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup achiote (annatto) seeds
- 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- For the Wings
- 1/3 cup coconut vinegar
- 1/4 cup achiote oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons of calamansi or lime juice
- 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
- To make the achiote oil: Place oil, achiote seeds, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and bay leaves in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat until oil begins to bubble around the achiote seeds. Remove pan from heat and allow mixture to steep for 1 to 2 hours. Strain oil through a fine-mesh strainer into a small glass jar. Discard solids. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the wings: In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, 1/4 cup of achiote oil, calamansi or lime juice, lemongrass, brown sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper. Place wings in a large resealable bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and toss to evenly distribute the marinade. Place bag in the refrigerator for 4 hours to overnight.
- 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 grilling grate. Place wings the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are lightly crisp and browned, about 45 minutes. Transfer wings to a serving platter and serve immediately.