As much as I like my grill-roasted chicken wings, the recipe doesn’t make enough wings to serve more than a couple of people. Wings take up a lot of space on the grill, and the indirect cooking method uses up more of the precious space on my Weber kettle.
*I really need to get the recently released 26-inch Weber kettle, but that’s another story. One about lust and grills, that ends in tears for my checkbook.
I decided to try cooking them with direct heat, so I could use my entire grill surface. What I found is that this is not a recipe for the easily distracted. You get good, crispy wings, but they have to be in almost constant motion. The hot spots and flare-ups you get on a charcoal grill are magnified by the large amount of chicken fat that will drip from the wings. If you lose focus for a minute, the result will be black, charred, and not very appetizing.*
*I had a few wings turn out like that, so I peeled the skin off before I tossed them with the sauce.
Why go through all this, when you can take the easy way out, and cook the wings with indirect heat? Because you can cook twice as many wings, and it takes one third of the time. Oh, and if you’re the type of person who likes a little char on your wings, you get that as a bonus.
Recipe: Grilled Chicken Wings, Spicy Asian Glazed
- Grill (I used my trusty Weber kettle, like this one here)
- Large bowl (for tossing wings with glaze)
- 5 lbs chicken wings
- 1/2 cup peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 4 tbsp honey
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (or use 1 tbsp garlic powder)
- 1″ chunk of ginger, grated (or use 1 tsp ground dried ginger)
- 1 tbsp Chile Paste (optional, or more to taste. I prefer Huy Fong’s Sambal Oelek chili paste)
- 2 tbsp honey
1. Marinate Chicken Wings: One to two hours before cooking, marinate the wings. Cut the wings into tip, wing and drumette sections, and put the wings and drumettes in a gallon ziploc bag. (See here for a picture of how to cut the wings. Reserve the wing tips for making stock). Put the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade for the glaze. Pour the rest over the wings in the bag, squeeze out all the air you can, and zip the bag closed. Store in the refrigerator, turning occasionally until ready to cook.
2. Make the Asian glaze: In the largest bowl you have, whisk the reserved 1/2 cup of marinade with the chili paste and honey until well combined. Set aside for glazing the wings later.
3. Prepare the grill: Prepare your grill for cooking on direct medium to medium-low heat (see details here). For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* 3/4 full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it so that most of the grill has a very dispersed pattern of coals. See the picture below.
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
gaps between them. I have a few too many in the top part of the grill, where they’re
packed together, and it was too hot in that section.
4. Grill the wings: Remove the wings from the marinade, and put on the grill grate over the medium-low coals. Grill, turning every two minutes, constantly checking and moving around to avoid flare-ups.* It will take 10-15 minutes for the wings to be cooked.
*You will have flare-ups. The price of non-burnt wings is eternal vigilance.
5. Sauce the wings: Whisk the glaze to recombine, then put the wings in the bowl, and toss to evenly coat. Let the wings rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then toss until coated again, and serve.
*Buffalo wings: Skip the ginger and use vegetable oil in the marinade. Replace the glaze with Buffalo Wing sauce from my Grill Roasted Chicken Wings recipe.
*Teriyaki wings: Replace the glaze with Teriyaki sauce from my Grill Roasted Chicken Wings recipe.
*Barbecued wings: Skip the ginger and use vegetable oil in the marinade. Replace the glaze with Barbecue sauce.
*This recipe is easier to cook on a gas grill. You get an even medium-low heat, and flare ups are much less likely on gas grills. Also, you can relax a bit, because of the lack of flare-ups; you don’t have to do the constant turning and moving that you have to on charcoal to avoid burning your wings.
*As I mention in the picture of the coals – I used too many (a full chimney), and had to push a bunch of them to one side. I meant to use that hotter section to help crisp them up at the end of cooking; I changed the written recipe to use less coals, and would recommend trying to keep a small section of the grill without any coals so you have a place to move wings if the flare-ups get to be too much.
*This recipe uses the Brinerate technique I’ve mentioned before. The soy sauce gives you a very high proportion of salt in the marinade, which gives you the effects of a brine with the flavor benefits of a marinade. But…don’t marinate the wings for more than two hours. The results will be too salty.
*I’m serious when I say you should reserve the wing tips for stock. They contain a lot of connective tissue, and help you make a thick, gelatinous broth. Just put them in a gallon ziploc bag in the freezer, add more chicken bones and scraps whenever you have them, and pretty soon you have enough chicken parts for making pressure cooker stock.
*OK, that link is to turkey stock; it’s the same thing, pretty much. I need to get my freezer velcro pressure cooker chicken stock recipe posted…
Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
If you need a more relaxed chicken wing experience, here’s my recipe for Grill Roasted Chicken Wings
[5/2010]: Improved wing technique! Check out my Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wings
Here’s my recipe for Thai Style Grill Roasted Chicken Breasts
Cooks Illustrated Guide to Grilling, Grilled Chicken Wings recipe