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.
My marinade makes almost 4 cups, so you could do many more than the large 15 whole wings that I did.
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
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.
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!
Add the beer and lime juice into the puree and spices. Stir. Taste to see if you want more salt.
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.
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
Take the wings out of the refrigerator while you set up the grill, so they come to room temperature.
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.
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.
Remove after basted and browned to your liking.
They are really easy to make, but, unfortunately, messy to eat. The rice was great.
So, I pronounced that we can’t have burgers on the grill every day this summer, then made a (Beer) Cheeseburger Casserole instead. Go figure. I even fired up the grill for cooking the peppers and onions, because I’ve become a little addicted to that grilled flavor they get, in addition to the ease of peeling the charred pepper skins off. I guess I might as well have cooked the hamburger there, too, but that’s water under the bridge. To make it more than a crumbled burger, I made some home fries to mix with the other ingredients, and then decided it might be a good time to try some beer cheese. No, I am not a beer drinker, but I’ve had good luck using it in other recipes, so I thought this would make the casserole special. Unfortunately, I found the combination of beer and cheese to be odd, a little sour, a little bitter in a bad way, while my husband (the beer drinker) said it was good.
Oh, well. You can make some sort of casserole or dip or sauce for your fries with this simple recipe:
It was really cooked on Saturday, but I never heard of a Saturday chicken, so I took poetic license with the title. Plus, I really couldn’t wait until Sunday to show off the chicken roaster accessory we bought for the grill. It comes with a removable cup for roasting a chicken with beer or whatever liquid you think might add flavor—this guy hates everything about beer can chicken and thinks it’s all a bunch of hooey. I think his ideas are worth a read.
The roaster is one of many accessories that fit into the center space on the cooking grid. You just remove the center grid and set in your accessory. The chicken roaster was on sale at the store where we were looking for something else, so it’s the first we have picked up. You can use it without the beer cup as just a vegetable roaster, or you could set any other kind of meat to roast in it.
In addition to adding beer and sliced garlic to the cup, I soaked the chicken for about 4 hours in a beer brine—just one bottle of beer and a generous teaspoon of salt. It plumped up nicely and was a terrifically moist chicken throughout. The breasts were as juicy as the thighs and none of it was dried out. We devoured all but the drumsticks, which will make a nice lunch for someone today.
The next time, I will keep the vegetables away from the sides closest to the coals, as a few were caramelized perhaps a little too much—still edible, but maybe too charred for some people. We devoured the veggies too. Then we finished off the meal with this creamy, creamy lemon no-bake cheesecake, making it a meal definitely fit for a Sunday.
Set up the grill for indirect heat at about 375°, with a drip pan in the center.
1 whole roasting chicken, about 4-6 lbs
2 bottles of beer
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, sliced
herb mixture—basil, chives, dill, garlic powder, for example
vegetables for roasting, whole or cut in large pieces
Soak the chicken in a brine of one bottle of beer and the teaspoon of salt for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning several times, especially to brine the breasts.
Add about 3/4 cup of beer and the sliced garlic to the beer cup. If using a beer can, it is preferable to use an opener that takes off the whole top of the can, to which you can add garlic, or you can make a lot of holes in the can.
When the grill is up to temperature, place the chicken over the beer cup in the roaster, or over a beer can half full. I put the roaster in the grid before setting the chicken on the cup, so I didn’t have to do acrobatics carrying the whole thing to the grill.
Rub the mixture of olive oil and herbs all over the chicken. don’t try to put the rub on before setting on the cup, because of all the maneuvering getting it on and standing up on it’s little legs. One advantage of this roaster over a can of beer is that it is locked into the roaster and won’t tip over, even if your chicken is lopsided. If roasting vegetables, place them around the chicken in the roaster.
Roast with the lid closed for about 1 1/2 hours with the top and bottom vents open. I didn’t peek. After 1 1/2 hours, check for doneness with a thermometer. I registered from about 170° to 180° in various places on the bird. All the juices were clear.
I know you wouldn’t be looking at this post if I hadn’t said beer. I’m using the indirect heat method for this chicken recipe, with the clever coal holders that came with the grill. Luckily, I had a foil pan to put in the middle for a drip pan, so it was just a matter of marinating and then placing the chicken on the grill over the pan. It’s been roasting at 400° for almost an hour, and I can see through the open top vents that the skin is getting a nice golden brown.
I didn’t go crazy with ingredients for the marinade, just beer, garlic, and olive oil, plus salt and pepper. The beer is Leinenkugel’s® Summer Shandy, but I’m not a beer drinker, so I didn’t know how that might affect the final taste; the results were very good, so I’ll give some credit to the beer. My husband donated the brew.