As I write this on a Saturday morning, outside an overnight snow is turning into the inevitable slushy mess that's the worst of winter weather in my opinion. Keeping myself sheltered from that cold, shoe and pant drenching winter mush, my thoughts immediately turn brighter as my attention pivots to these wings. The Tiki-inspired sweet and fruity sauce that coated these crisp skinned chicken has the power to transport me to a warmer, sunnier place, which makes them even better in the winter in my mind than their more apt summer setting. They were my favorite of the lots this month, and I purposefully saved the best for last.
The sauce for these wings was already well known to me—I used it as part of a Hawaiian huli huli chicken recipe I got from Cook's Country. It's a pineapple based sauce whose sugary prominence is contrasted with sharp fresh ginger and garlic. This was pretty much the sole flavor source in the huli huli chicken, but I thought I could push things a little further with my wings by building up another layer of spice via a rub.
I didn't go crazy here, just a couple additions to the baking powder and salt mixture I usually coat my wings with. To that, I mixed in brown sugar for an extra hit of sweetness with the bonus mellow molasses undertone it brings along, and chili powder for an earthy quality that I thought would build just enough added complexity without detracting from the primary flavors of the sauce.
I patted the wings dry with paper towels and then tossed them with the rub until they were evenly coated. Then onto a wire rack they went before I transferred them to the fridge. They sat there overnight as I waited for the skin to dry out.
As the wings rested, I put together the sauce. I remember that huli huli sauce being really killer, so I kept it exactly the same as I had made it previously. Pineapple juice served as the foundation which was built upon with brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha. I let this thin sauce boil down into a thick and syrupy glaze. During the 30 minutes that took, the flavors concentrated and melded into a harmonious fruity, sweet, and tangy sauce with a nice bite created by the ginger, garlic, and hot sauce.
When it was time for cooking, I started a two-zone fire, arranged the wings on the cool side of the grill, and covered. I let them cook until the skin had browned and developed a crisp, textured exterior that is the unexpected hallmark of just about all of my grilled wings.
When making the huli huli chicken, I brushed on the glazed and then let it cook down on the chicken. Since the sauce was already thick enough to coat and cling to the wings well, I didn't see that really necessary here and just tossed the chicken with the sauce in a bowl as I would with standard Buffalo wings.
These glistening babies are a sight for sore eyes. Just looking at them, my thoughts are quickly brought back to how that sweet pineapple glaze with its Asian notes was indicative of a Pacific island flavor—however stereotyped it may be—that took me out of my urban surroundings when I first made them at a Meatwave in the fall, and are removing me from my snowy reality right now. I'm not alway a big sweet-wing fan, but these Tiki wings are a best in bred in that category, and that makes them fit great into so many party situations.
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Inactive 8 Hours
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 9 Hours 15 Minutes
- For the Wings
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
- For the Sauce
- 18 oz pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- To prep the wings: In a small bowl, mix together baking powder, salt, chili powder, and brown sugar. Pat chicken wings dry with paper towels. Place wings in a large bowl and sprinkle seasoning mixture, tossing to evenly coat. 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.
- To make the sauce: Combine pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha in empty saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until thick and syrupy, 25 to 30 minutes.
- 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 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.
Sauce adapted from Cook's Country.
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Sol I make these wings and every time I do, people rave about it. There is never any sauce left because it's perfect for dipping too! In the last 10-15 minutes of the sauce simmering, I put in a whole, dried habenaro and let it simmer. Gives it a little more heat. Great recipe!