Grilled Chicken Wings with Beer-Ancho Marinade

So, here’s my experience with wings. I have seen wings on the whole chickens and turkeys I’ve cooked. That’s it. I have never cooked wings, never ordered or eaten wings in any of the dives in which they are popular, and, frankly, have never held much of a good opinion about them as food. I always figured they were developed to sucker drunks into spending more money for nothing but bones and skin. But here I am with 5 pounds of whole chicken wings, which turns out to be 15 of them, just to see what happens.

I don’t really care for the super sugary or vinegary barbecue sauces, so I figured I’d start with beer again, and work from there, since it works so well when I marinate whole chickens. I do like Mexican sauces made from reconstituted peppers, especially ancho peppers, so I made up a marinade that is pretty much like my enchilada sauce, but with lime juice instead of vinegar, a lot more garlic, and then the bottle of beer. Half of it went to marinate the wings, and the other half was cooked down a little for a basting and serving sauce.

One thing I refused to do was to cut them into pieces and cut off the pointed tips to discard. Aesthetically, I think they look better whole, and I don’t see why the tip can’t be used as a kind of handle. Let people break them apart on eating, I say.

They turned out well, easy to cook, easy to keep the heat moderate (250°-350°), and my husband declared them good, eating 9 whole wings. I ate 3, and, oh, here’s the other thing—I hate to get my fingers messy when I eat.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Beer-Ancho Marinade

  • Servings: 5+ lbs of wings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

My marinade makes almost 4 cups, so you could do many more than the large 15 whole wings that I did.

Beer-Ancho Marinade

4-5 medium dried ancho peppers, reconstituted in 2 cups water

4-5 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle (more if you like it hot)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 12 oz bottle beer

  1. Reconstitute rinsed, seeded, and torn apart ancho peppers by pouring boiling water over and covering for at least 45 minutes. Place peppers and some of the water in a blender and process, adding the rest of the soaking water until combined and finely pureed. Pour through strainer into medium mixing bowl, stirring the pureed mixture until only bits of the pepper skin remain in the strainer. You want all the thick pulp, but not the bits of dried skin. It takes at least five minutes.
  2. Pour about 1/2 cup of the strained puree back into the blender with the garlic and spices. Blend until the garlic is completely minced. Pour back into the bowl with the rest of the pureed peppers. Don’t be silly by putting beer in the blender, but if you do, send me the pics of the results!
  3. Add the beer and lime juice into the puree and spices. Stir. Taste to see if you want more salt.
  4. Marinate the wings in large sealable plastic bags with about 2 cups of marinade. I put 7 wings in one bag and 8 in another, each with 1 cup of marinade. Refrigerate, turning at least once, for 4 hours.
  5. The remaining almost 2 cups of marinade can be simmered with one teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of water, not so much to thicken as to bind all the ingredients so they don’t separate. I used this to baste the wings during the last of the cooking.

Grilling the Wings

Cook over direct heat at 250°-350° for about 30 minutes, turning a few times.

15 whole marinated chicken wings

  1. Take the wings out of the refrigerator while you set up the grill, so they come to room temperature.
  2. Set up the charcoal grill for direct heat cooking with a full chimney of charcoal. I spread out the charcoal in a single layer to cover most of the cooking area and to keep the heat even. As you can see in the photo, I grilled some peppers and onions in the back, which were later cut up to go in some basmati rice cooked in chicken stock.
  3. Place the marinated wings on the cooking grid and close the lid. turn after about 10 minutes, if they are browned to your liking. I turned them twice before basting and moved a few around to get even browning on all of them. I think I went a little over 30 minutes, because I was concerned about them being done, but really, there’s not much meat there. I tried to use a thermometer, but I don’t see how you can use one without hitting a bone. If there’s a next time, I’ll just go by time.
  4. Remove after basted and browned to your liking.

They are really easy to make, but, unfortunately, messy to eat. The rice was great.

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