I remember the very first time I tried wings.  It the summer before my senior year of high school.  I was taking classes at the nearby university and some friends suggested that we get hot wings.  Any hot food always catches my attention immediately, so we went to the “Strip” and stuffed ourselves with spicy, deep fried goodness.  I remember the resin covered tables cracking from the constant insult of grease.  This was a time when your choices were simply mild, hot or “x-treme” with a side of curly fries.  Now it is a dish that occupies its own category of stand alone eateries, offering a endless array of flavors and preparation styles.  I have seen it served everywhere from back yard barbecues to an occasional appearance atop white table cloths.

Despite your choice of wing sauce, there are two primary ways to prepare the wings them: smoked or fried.  Frying allows the sauce to be the highlight of the dish, the protein and fat of the chicken act as a vehicle for the sauce and add depth of flavor in the background. Here in the South, we have a tradition of high esteem for a good sauce as many barbecue restaurants provide stacks of white bread to soak up the remaining goodness.  Smoking, however, brings the flavor of the chicken in concert with the sauce.  Preparation of the wings prior to cooking and smoking method have to be planned to compliment the sauce.

Smoked Saki marinated wings finished with sesame seeds are as good as an appetizer for your garden party as they are a highlight on game day.

 

Ingredients

Marinade
4 tablespoon dry mustard
1 bottle sake
1 cup mirin
1⁄2 cup Japanese soy sauce
8 tablespoons sesame oil
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1/4 cup tablespoons finely chopped scallions, white and green portions
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely ground fresh black pepper
Generous pinch of crushed hot red pepper flakes

Glaze
Generous pinch of crushed hot red pepper flakes
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup mirin
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Rub
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup paprika
1/8 cup onion powder
1/8 cup garlic powder
4 tablespoons cayenne powder
4 tablespoons fresh ground pepper

Garnish
Sesame seeds
1/4 cup scallions, green portions

 

Cook it!

1. Combine marinade ingredients and marinate wings for 4-24 hours.

2. Put butter and oil for glaze in a sauce pan and combine over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir until incorporated. Add other ingredients and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Prepare smoker for indirect cooking. Heat smoker to 350 degrees. I prefer to place a drip pan in center of the grill with two foil wrapped bricks on either side. I place a second grill on top of this and smoke the wings over the drip pan.

4. Remove wings from marinade and allow to drip off excess marinade. Sprinkle generously with rub. Reserve remaining marinade

5. Place wings on grill and allow to smoke about 15 minutes. Then baste with marinade using a brush and apply more rub. Turn the wings and baste and rub the undersides.

6. Turn again and apply additional rub in ten minutes. Repeat again after 35 total cooking time.

7. Remove from wings from smoker and toss in 2/3 of the glaze.

8. Place wings on hot grill (gas is what I prefer) and cook the glaze onto the wings about one minute per side.

9. Toss in remaining sauce.

10. Garnish.

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