Grillin’ Like a Villain

This week Quality Time has the pleasure of bringing you a sweet, sweet, summertime living guest column by Adrian Rechichar, Account Executive with National Wholesale Funding. He'll put you on the path to grilling greatness.

We are right in the middle of spring with summer right around the corner. This means grills are being cleaned off and prepared for yet another season where the distinct aroma of the backyard BBQ permeates through the neighborhoods across America. One of the most interesting things about backyard grilling is variety. From grills and grilling methods to foods, spices, sauces and marinades, the imagination can be set free to explore the many opportunities that outdoor cooking provides.

Like many self-proclaimed backyard grill masters, I usually start the season slow with burgers, steaks, chops, ribs or simple BBQ chicken. I consider it spring training for the backyard BBQ fanatic. As the season progresses I find myself in a culinary slump which requires new recipes or variations on the usual meals. One of my favorite variations is the jerk chicken wing. I will tell you that I am famous among my friends and family for my buffalo barbequed chicken wings so when I decided to research jerk cooking and give it a try, I was a little nervous. Having prepared this meal a little over 20 times now I am confident this is a tried and true recipe.

Jerk cooking came from the Caribbean and it was initially used as a way to preserve meats by packing them in a specific spice mixture indigenous to the area. These spices are still used today and they are: Scotch Bonnet peppers, Allspice, Scallions and Thyme. These are the ingredients that you will find in most every jerk seasoning marinade and dry seasoning mix- both of which are required to make these delicious wings. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 TBSP of chopped garlic

1 TBSP of fresh chopped thyme

1 tsp of ground allspice

4 TBSP of chopped scallions

3-5 lbs. of whole chicken wings

Jerk Marinade

Dried Jerk Seasoning

2 cups of water

2 TBSP of cooking oil

Marinating the Meat:

Add all the ingredients except the chicken into a large bowl. Mix well to combine the ingredients until a consistent texture is achieved. Add the chicken wings and cover the meat in the marinade and refrigerate no less than 12 hours (24 hours is recommended).

Cooking:

Skewer the wings with a wooden skewer. You can get 2-3 wings per skewer comfortably. Place the wings in a baking pan and lightly season with the dry jerk seasoning. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until fully cooked. Remove and place in the refrigerator. Cooking in the oven will reduce the flare-ups on the grill but it is not a necessary step prior to grilling. You can grill the meat the entire time or you can even employ a water smoker to great effect if you have desire. Just remember ‘long and slow’ if you want to capture the flavor when grilling or smoking the meat in its entirety. I personally use a 22” charcoal grill and cook over the indirect heat side of the grill with the vents above and below barely open. I have used the oven method on occasion but that was due to inclement weather (cold) rather than convenience. I prefer to grill the wings from start to finish with lots of wood chips (see below). But if you choose to utilize the oven method then you will only need about five minutes per side on the grill.

Additional Suggestions:

  • When grilling ‘long and slow’ you can add wood chips to enhance the flavor. Pimento wood (allspice) adds to the authentic jerk flavor as will mesquite, hickory or apple wood. Soak the chips in water for a minimum of 30 minutes before adding to the coals. Then add the meat and cover the grate. All will be good!
  • Add some Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce. This and several other hot sauce varieties will enhance the flavor further and add an additional kick if you like spicy foods. I would avoid Tabasco sauce due to the conflicting aroma compared to the Scotch Bonnet in the marinade and dry mix.
  • You may also add 4-8oz of a good strong lager to the marinade mixture. This will add a robust punch that complements the overall nature of jerk cooking.

No matter which variations you employ the end result will be a great tasting, different twist to a good old fashioned chicken wing. Summer is almost here so get your favorite summer songs cued up, prepare your favorite summer beverage and relax next to the grill! Summer is all about good friends, family and good food!