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Saucy Chicken Wings

Grill first, then toss with a sweet or spicy sauce

Fine Cooking Issue 72
Photo: Scott Phillips
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After much research in the field, I’ve concluded there’s a correlation between good summer eating and the number of napkins needed for the task. Maybe that’s why I love making grilled chicken wings for friends. I serve up the wings as an appetizer and quickly set the mood for a fun evening. My guests can lounge around the grill, go to work on the wings, and sip beer while I finish cooking the rest of the meal.

My grilled wings take about 30 minutes from start to finish. I grill the wings over a moderate fire. While they cook, I whisk up a quick sauce. The technique is basically the opposite of a marinade. Instead of trying to infuse flavors into the chicken before cooking, the sauce saturates the grilled wings with vibrant flavors afterward. This “sauce after” approach eliminates the need to plan ahead for marinating. You can decide to make these wings when you’re at the market and have them ready to go shortly after you get home. And you don’t have to worry about burning a sugary marinade or basting sauce on the grill.

A moderate fire browns and crisps. Resist the temptation to cook the wings quickly over high heat. Instead, cook them gently over medium or medium-high heat so the skin crisps and browns while the meat inside cooks.

When the wings are done, toss them with one of the intensely flavored sauces at right. I admit these wings will be slightly messy to eat, but that’s part of the fun (and that’s what the napkins are for). After all, it’s summer.


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