On the heels of the Super Bowl and two parties, I want to deviate a bit and offer a quick column on food. It should come as no surprise for you to learn that I not only like libation, but also food in almost all of its wondrous varieties. Now having gone to college in upstate New York, I quickly acquired a taste of Buffalo Wings. In my years since graduation I have made wings in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of success. The recipe I am about to share with you is a more recent (yet highly delicious) addition to my wing repertoire. I find that the smoked meat pairs beautifully with the very hot yet sweet sauce.
Smoked Jumbo Wings with Habanero Mash
Prep Time: 6 hours (not including overnight marinade)
The Wings: It all begins with the wings themselves. You really want to get the largest and highest quality wings you can find. I am blessed to live in the City of Brotherly Love and therefore I like to go to Cannuli House of Poultry in the world famous Italian Market for my wings. They cost more per pound than the regular sized variety but the extra meat is needed because of the smoking and to be honest, if you are going to spend this long making wings then you want as much meat as possible to savor when you are done.
The Marinade: Minced garlic- 1-2 cloves per pound of wings. Cheap hot sauce- like Franks or Durkees- 1 bottle per 5 pounds. After removing the wings make sure you reserve the marinade for use in the sauce.
The Smoking: If you have never used a smoker it would take too long to explain the process here. Anyway use good hardwood chunks (better than chips). Smoking time depends on the heat of your fire and the amount of meat you have put in.
The Crisping: Simply smoking meat can produce a leathery skin that is not unpleasant but I have found that if you throw your freshly smoked wings on the grill for 5-10 minutes the flames get the skin to crisp nicely thus simulating traditional wing crunch nicely. You can also crisp them in an oven set at 425.
The Sauce: OK- this is the tricky part to relate because I am not a scientific cook- meaning I don’t measure much when I cook. Also when working with Habaneros, one’s heat tolerance comes into play. Anyway, when I make this mash, I make a large amount and store it for future use. First thing is to Ventilate The Kitchen! Better yet, if you have a burner on your grill just cook it outside. Take 6 cloves of minced garlic, 1 minced small onion and 12 minced habaneras (consider wearing gloves when handling the peppers). Sautee in oil. When thoroughly cooked down add 2-4 tbls of honey and puree in a blender. Store in a plastic, air-tight container.
Pour the marinade into a saucepan and add 4 tsps of butter or margarine. Heat to a boil. Turn off the heat. Stir in 1-4 tbls of the Habanero Mash depending on your heat tolerance.
The Finish: Pour sauce over the wings and coat thoroughly. Serve!
Quick Prep Variation: If you do not have a smoker or you do not have the time to use it you can simulate the results by cooking your wings on the grill the whole time and using a smoker box insert (a small metal box that goes on the flames under the grill surface). Cook over low heat for 1 hour. Turn up heat to high and follow Crisping directions.
Once proclaimed as my contribution to Western Civilization, these wings follow the same recipe as above with the exception of the maranade and sauce :
1 part Chili-Garlic paste, 1 part Hot Teriyaki (I like World Harbors Maui Mountain Hot Teriyaki and for a more sesame laden twist I like Soy Vey brand), 1 part basic hot sauce like Crystal or Durkee (for that dash of traditional flavoring). You can play with the combination but basically you want to get the heat of the chillies, the garlic and the sweet/sticky of the teriyaki. Naturally Sriracha sauce makes a nice addition and you can also monkey with wasabi, sesame, Thai or curry variants if you are so inclined. I have also made a fresh mash with Thai Dragon peppers.
I will post a bit more on what kind of beer pairs best with these wings in the near future.