UP IN SMOKE
October 23rd, 2012
Americans have been tailgating for a long time. Ever since 1869, to be precise, when the Princeton and Rutgers football teams met to compete in a farm field turned gridiron. Students brought lunches to the game in baskets and served them off the tailgates of farm wagons.
Flash forward to today, when more than 20 million Americans now tailgate. (Not including the ones who ride your bumper on your workday commute.) And like football, tailgating has become a competition sport of its own—especially in the last quarter of the season. Which is why we’re sharing our 12 Steps to Tailgating Enlightenment, plus a sizzling new recipe for Firecracker Chicken Wings.
May the best team win!
The 12 Steps to Tailgate Enlightenment:
3 to 3-1/2 pounds chicken wings
For the rub:
1 tablespoon hot or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame oil or vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3 red jalapeno peppers (or other hot peppers—preferably red—or to taste), stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup Sriracha—Thai hot sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
You’ll also need: 1-1/2 cups hardwood chips, soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes.
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400°F).
Cut the chicken wings into 2 sections, the drumette and the flat, discarding the wing tip (or save it for stock). Place the wings in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the paprika, pepper, salt, onion and garlic powder, and celery seed over the chicken and toss to mix. Add the sesame oil and toss to mix.
Arrange the chicken wings on the grate over the drip pan away from the heat. Leave a little space between each wing. Toss the wood chips on the coals (or place in the smoker box of your gas grill.) Indirect grill the wings until darkly browned and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the wings. To check for doneness, make a slit in the thickest part of the largest drumette: there should be no traces of pink in the meat, though you might get a pink smoke ring near the bone.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in skillet. (Bubbles will dance when you dip a chile slice in the butter.) Add the chile slices and cilantro to the butter and cook over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Stir in the Sriracha and bring to a boil.
Transfer the chicken wings to a large shallow bowl. Pour most of the butter mixture over them and toss to mix. Pour the remaining butter mixture on top and serve at once.
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