Caribbean Sticky Wings

First, an update. Thank you for the outpouring of support when I mentioned my reason for taking a break from blogging and social media. It’s been a challenging year for many reasons, but these past few months have been very restorative. I’m also happy to report that later today a newly-revised version of The Heritage Cookbook will be on its way to my publisher–a huge weight off my chest. More so than anything I’ve ever written, this new book carries a good chunk of my heart with it; three years of research and development, and moments of frustration and elation. I can’t wait to show it to you folks soon.

Second, let’s celebrate! Today I’m sharing my recipe for Caribbean-inspired sticky wings, spiked with a bit of rum for some tropical notes and a little bite. Traeger Grills recently sent me a grill to try out, and I thought this would be the perfect recipe to showcase the fun of using their products.

So yes, I’m back to blogging and maintaining a social media presence. I’ll probably ease into things, mostly because the family and I are trying to squeeze the last bits of fun out of what remains of summer — but you should expect to see more recipes soon.

I made this recipe with the Traeger Pro Series 22 pellet grill. Over the past month I’ve been putting it through its paces, testing it out on various recipes that I would normally entrust to my charcoal grill, smoker, or gas grill. For me, these grills each serve a distinct purpose: the charcoal grill is typically for direct-heat cooking of lean or tender cuts (like steaks, chicken breasts, or pork chops), the smoker is for low-and-slow barbecue (like ribs, pulled pork, or brisket), and the gas grill is for when I want an even, predictable temperature or when I don’t feel like lighting up charcoal.

What I’ve found is that the Traeger works really well in imparting a smoky, hardwood flavor at very even temperatures. Because the heat is diffused through the bottom of the grill (at a fair distance from the grill grates), it really excels in lower heats–it can handle anything from 180F to 375F with ease, and up to 500F if you crank it to its highest setting. In practical terms, this pellet grill really shines with dishes that benefit from indirect grilling (like today’s chicken wings).

Caribbean Sticky Wings (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Perfect Health Diet)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy

3-4 lbs chicken wings
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Caribbean Sticky Sauce:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp rum
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 pinches ground cinnamon
Caribbean hot sauce (optional, as desired)

1. Pat the chicken pieces dry using paper towels, then transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the olive oil and toss to coat, then sprinkle in the salt, paprika, pepper, all spice, and ginger; mix together using your hands to coat everything evenly.

2a. Traeger grilling instructions: With the lid open, turn the switch on and set the temperature dial to “smoke”. Once the grill starts to emit smoke, close the lid and set the dial to 350F. Wait for it to reach temperature, then distribute the wings evenly over the grill grates. Grill until the wings are golden and its skin appears crispy at the edges, about 45 minutes. About halfway through cooking, rearrange the chicken so that the pieces that look more done than others are swapped with the less-cooked pieces.

2b. Conventional grill instructions: Warm up the grill for indirect moderate heat: if using a charcoal grill, bank the coals to one side; if using a gas grill, ignite the burners on one side. Place the chicken on the cool side of the grill and cook until the wings are golden and its skin appears crispy at the edges, about 45 minutes. About halfway through cooking, rearrange the chicken so that the pieces that look more done than others are swapped with the less-cooked pieces.

3. As the chicken cooks, combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until the sauce appears glossy, about 8 minutes, stirring often; remove from heat and set aside.

4. Place the wings in a large mixing bowl, the pour in half of the sauce and toss to coat. Depending on how sticky you like your wings, add the remaining half of the wings and repeat the process, or serve on the side as a dip.

*** For Caribbean-style hot sauce, any will do. Our recent favorites are Marie Sharp’s sauces, which we discovered during a trip to Belize last year. They are fruity and complex without being overly spicy.

This is the heart of pellet grills: the pellet hopper. You simply adjust the dial to your desired temperature from its lowest setting (“smoke”) to “high” (about 500F). Pellet grills are not ideal for super high-heat cooking, like searing steaks, but barbecue and indirect-heat foods are dead simple and fully flavored. The hopper holds about 18 lbs of pellets, which lasts for several grilling/smoking sessions. This model also features two built-in thermometer probes so that you can check your meat’s progress without opening the lid.

So in the end, I liken pellet grilling to the ease of gas grilling but with much improved flavor. After a month of use, I comfortably sold off my smoker and gas grill, and I’ll keep the charcoal grill around for when I want to cook over direct high heat.

I opted for a relatively smaller model, and was impressed with its capacity regardless–572 square inches (enough for four chickens or five racks of ribs at once).

8 thoughts on “Caribbean Sticky Wings

  1. Its so good to have you back Russ! Life throws us curve balls once in a while just to test our strength. I’ve always believed that the low points always make us stronger but that doesn’t make them any easier to endure. Your readers, including us, love you and hope only the best for you!

    Sue & Harald Johnsen ________________________________

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