Wing Sauce – First Try

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I love grilled wings – crispy, sweet, spicy, tangy, juicy, smoky – what’s not to love? I just look for excuses to make them. This batch was an experiment in making my own wing sauce. I’ve tried a lot of the bottled sauces and been happy (sometimes ecstatic) with most of them, but I still wanted to try my hand at creating my own unique sauce.

3-4 pounds chicken wings (about 16-24 wings), cut at the joint into two pieces
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon medium chili powder
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the wings and the butter and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the butter and boil for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Makes about 2 cups.

In a large container with a lid, combine half the sauce with the wings and and shake to make sure that they are well-covered. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight, turning the pieces occasionally.

Set up your grill for an indirect cook at 400°F. Use a pan under the grate to catch any drippings and further diffuse the heat.

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When the grill is ready, put the wings on the grill and cook undisturbed for 30 minutes. Flip and cook for another 30 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

Pour remaining sauce into a large bowl Add the wings and toss to mix well. Move to a plate and serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

The Verdict

While these were some tasty wings, there’s plenty of room for improvement:

  • They had just a little heat up front, but it lingered and built. I liked it, but by the 4th wing or so some folks found them a little overwhelming. Next time I’d go down to 1 teaspoon cayenne and add 1/2 teaspoon chipotle.
  • Way too much vinegar. I’ll leave out the white vinegar entirely and double the balsamic and maybe add a 1/4 cup or so of beer.
  • More sweet – double the brown sugar.
  • Maybe a tablespoon of ketchup or tomato sauce to help meld the flavors.
  • The grocery store was out of fresh wings,  so I had to use frozen –  never again, no way, no how – the frozen ones are much smaller and the texture just isn’t as good.
  • To marinate or not marinate: that is the question. Marinating gets me a deeper flavor. Not marinating gets me a dryer skin, which means a crispier wing. Not sure which I like more.

Well, it looks like I’ll be be running a few more tests. The nice thing about experimenting with food is that you get to eat your mistakes.

2 thoughts on “Wing Sauce – First Try”

  1. Awesome trial though. I don’t like marinading mine either because of the skin issue. But here’s a thought. Brine, rinse, and dry for flavor? I’ve brined mine a few times and they worked nicely. Juicy, flavorful but still got a good crisp skin.

  2. that sounds really good. i have a small BBQ catering co. on the side from my “dammit i hate this office but the benefits are good” job, and i have to agree. while i like all wings, grilled are the best. especially the charred bit.

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