David Kelly's Sticky, Sweet, and Spicy Chicken Wings

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of David Kelly for Louisiana Kitchen & Culture

Serves 4

  • 3½ pounds chicken wings (about 18 pieces)

For the rub:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

For the basting sauce:

  • 1 9-ounce jar mango chutney (or other jam or marmalade)
  • 3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Wings David Kelly's Sticky, Spicy, Sweet Chicken Wings

Click image to enlarge



Whisk salt, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne together in a small bowl. Chop wings into 3 pieces and discard wing tips. Place wing pieces in a single layer on a lipped tray and pat dry on all sides. Using your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger (sometimes known as the First Amendment finger) sprinkle about half the dry rub mixture on the wings; pat so the rub adheres to the chicken.

Turn wing pieces and season with remaining rub; pat to adhere. Place wing pieces in zip-top bags and refrigerate for at least an hour but up to 24 hours.

In blender or food processor, pulse chutney (or jam or jelly) and balsamic vinegar until well-mixed and fruit is almost liquid. Transfer basting liquid to a bowl and reserve.

Oil grill with canola oil before placing wings on grill.

For gas grills: Using all grill burners, heat grill to 350ºF. Turn off one set of burners and cook wings by indirect heat over extinguished burner.

For charcoal grills: bring covered grill to 350ºF. Using a spatula or tongs, rake hot coals to one side of grill and cook the wings by indirect heat on the other side of the grill.

Cook on one side for 5 minutes, covered. Turn and baste with chutney mixture. Cook for 5 minutes more, turn and baste again. Continue cooking until wings are done, approximately 25 minutes total, turning and basting at 2 to 4-minute intervals. When done, remove to a bowl, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. They’re wings; they’ll fly out of the bowl.


David’s Tips:

If you don’t like to use extra-long tongs but also don’t care so much about roasting your forearms, keep the heat to the rear of the grill and cook the wings on the front. Miraculously, short tongs will work just fine.Less cayenne for less heat, more for more. After 2 or 3 batches you’ll figure out exactly what you like.

Basting sauce can be made ahead of time and stored, covered, in a close (trusted) friend’s refrigerator.

Try Wood Chips: The last time I made wings, I soaked a half cup of hickory chips in water for 30 minutes before grilling. I tightly wrapped the soaked chips in heavy-duty aluminum foil, cut several slits in the top of the foil, and laid it atop the hot burners in the grill to smoke the wings as they cooked.

Basting Sauce: For the basting sauce, I used blueberry jam and strawberry-infused balsamic vinegar; sweet sticky, smoky goodness resulted.

When wings are done, after about 20 to 25 minutes of total cooking time, transfer them to a waiting bowl, tent with aluminum foil, and let them rest for five to 10 minutes. Enjoy the wings responsibly (and keep plenty of napkins or paper towels handy).

Use the following rub and basting liquid recipes as a guideline; improvise to suit your tastes.

Get Creative with Flavors: Infused balsamics are readily available on every third street corner.  Orange marmalade with coconut balsamic vinegar makes for spectacular “tropical” wings. A tablespoon of Grand Marnier to the sauce makes it even better. Blueberry jam and any berry-infused balsamic with a couple of drops of hickory-flavored liquid smoke makes another wonderful variation.


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