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The Best Chicken Wings to Make For Fall


From time to time we offer guest blogs on Barbecuebible.com. This one comes from a chef that we at BarbecueBible.com admire greatly, Matt Jennings, author of Homegrown: Cooking from My New England Roots.  His restaurant Townsman in Boston garners significant acclaim for its bold, New England-inspired flavors. We think you’ll see why when you try his recipe below for Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce. Matt, an avid football fan, knows from experience that they’ll make you a winner at any tailgate party this fall.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: contrary to what every sports bar in America asserts, the best chicken wings don’t come out of the deep fryer, but off the grill. These wings are marinated overnight in spiced citrus juice, which tenderizes and flavors the meat, and the sugar in the marinade caramelizes when the chicken is cooked.

Though the wings are flavorful enough on their own, serve them with a tangy apple cider and molasses barbecue sauce alongside, since every wing deserves a dip. Because the marinating and sauce-making are done ahead (and because wings are crowd-pleasers for adults and kids alike), this is a great recipe for a party.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Cider Barbecue Sauce

Serves 6

2½ cups fresh orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
¾ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons shoyu (white soy sauce)
2 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 lemons, halved
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
5½ pounds chicken wings, wing tips removed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cider-Molasses Barbecue Sauce (see recipe), for serving

  1. In a large pot, combine the orange juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, vinegar, ½ cup of the salt, the smashed garlic, brown sugar, shoyu, oregano, thyme, peppercorns, lemon halves, cumin, and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour the marinade into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag or large bowl. Add the chicken wings to the cooled marinade, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for direct, medium-high-heat grilling. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons salt, the ground black pepper, and the cayenne. Remove the chicken wings from the marinade and lay them on the paper towel–lined pan; blot them dry with more paper towels. Sprinkle the wings with the salt mixture on all sides and grill, turning often, until charred and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. Transfer the chicken wings to a serving platter and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve with the barbecue sauce alongside.
Excerpted from Homegrown by Matt Jennings (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Huge Galdones.