As American as apple pie, the marriage of beer and wings is difficult to improve on. Unless you add more beer. And a grill. The idea of braised-and-grilled chicken wings must have been a "eureka!" moment for the adventurous cook who first tried it. Simmering wings gives them the fall-off-the-bone tenderness prized by meat lovers, and a few minutes on a screaming-hot grill produces the golden brown, crispy skin wing aficionados dream about. You want to simmer the wings in a stout beer, because regular brews lack the complex flavors needed to impact the wings' taste.
Things You'll Need
- Paper towels
- Kitchen knife
- Oil or butter
- Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan
- Garlic, peppers or other aromatic ingredients
- Stout beer
- Wooden spoon
- Thyme, bay leaf, chili flakes or other herbs and spices
- High-heat oil such as canola, peanut or sunflower
- Grill brush
- Mixing bowl (optional)
- Sauce (optional)
Pat the wings dry with paper towels and cut them through both joints with a kitchen knife. Reserve the wing tips for stock, and season the drumettes and center portion with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil or butter in a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove over medium heat.
Add mirepoix, or two parts coarsely chopped onion to one part each coarsely chopped carrots and celery, to the pan along with other aromatic ingredients, if desired. Aromatic ingredients, such as mirepoix, garlic and peppers, are used to add subtle background flavors and aromas to food while it simmers.
Saute the vegetables until they caramelize and you hear them sizzle, which means the moisture has cooked out of them. Pour about 1 cup of beer in the pan and scrape the bottom of it with a wooden spoon to lift the caramelized bits, known as the fond.
Simmer the beer until reduced by half and add the wings to the pan in a single layer. Pour enough beer over the wings to almost submerge them, leaving about a half-inch of wing sticking out above the beer.
Add herbs and spices you want to flavor the wings with to the beer in the pan. Fresh herbs, such as thyme and bay leaf, and spices, such as black peppercorns and chili flakes, go well with grilled wings. Like aromatic vegetables, the herbs and spices in a braise add layers of flavor, but they won't overpower the taste of the wings or the smokiness they'll get from grilling later.
Adjust the heat so the beer barely simmers and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer the wings until the flesh pulls away from the bone easily by hand, about one hour. Check the beer level after about 30 minutes and add more as needed so the wings stay nearly submerged.
Set up the grill for medium-high, direct-heat cooking while the wings simmer away. If you have a charcoal grill, fire up a chimney starter about 3/4 full of lump charcoal and empty it over the charcoal tray. Spread the coals out in an even layer with long-handled tongs, a stick or other fire-safe implement and close the lid.
If you grill with gas, set the burners to medium-high and close the lid.
Remove the wings from the pan when they reach the desired tenderness and transfer them to a plate. Let the wings cool to room temperature. If you place hot, moist wings fresh from the braising liquid on a medium-high grill, you'll encounter flareups.
Scrape the grill grate clean with a grill brush and rub it down with high-heat oil, such as canola or sunflower. Place the wings on the grill, spacing each about 1 inch from the next.
Turn the wings frequently with tongs so they crisp and color evenly. Since the wings reached their safe serving temperature, 165 degrees Fahrenheit, when braising, you only have to grill them for color, crispness and smokiness, which takes about five minutes.
Remove the wings when they reach the desired crispness and color. Place the wings in a mixing bowl and toss them with sauce while still hot, if desired.
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