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Eric Akis: Give your grilled Buffalo wings a spicy kick

If you enjoy chicken wings with a spicy kick, and like cooking in the great outdoors, this recipe for grilled Buffalo wings should appeal.
Buffalo-style wings, cooked on a barbecue, tossed and coated with a rich and addictive melted butter, hot sauce mixture. ERIC AKIS

If you enjoy wings with a spicy kick, and like cooking in the great outdoors, I have a recipe that should appeal. It’s a version of the bar-room favourite, Buffalo wings. But in this case, the wings are not deep-fried, as is traditionally done, they’re grilled on a barbecue.

Before grilling, the wings are seasoned with such things as smoked paprika and ancho chili powder, which are sold in the bottled herb/spice aisle of most supermarkets.

Smoked paprika is made from smoked, dried, ground sweet red pepper pods. It gives chicken wings a pleasing, smoky taste that’s further enhanced when they’re cooked on a barbecue.

Unlike regular chili powder, which is made from dried, ground chilies and other spices, such as cumin, ancho chili powder is only made from dried ancho chilies, which are called poblano peppers when fresh. It has a deep, rich, slightly fruity, earthy flavour with mild to medium heat that also nicely compliments the taste of chicken.

To cook chicken wings on a barbecue, I grilled them a few minutes over the hot flames, until nicely charred. I then moved the wings to one side of the barbecue and turned the heat off underneath them. The other side of the barbecue was left on and the lid was closed. It’s a technique that sort of turns a barbecue into a convection oven, where heat rises up on the lit side of the barbecue, hits the lid, and then swirls around the wings on the other side of the barbecue, tastily cooking them without the flames scorching them.

When cooked, to finish my Buffalo-style wings, I tossed them, as you would do if they were deep-fried, with a melted butter/hot sauce mixture. And, the combination of the wing seasonings, the grilling, and the buttery hot sauce mixture created incredibly flavourful wings. Chicken wings that will definitely go great with a cold drink, such as beer or lemonade.

Buffalo-style wings are often served with blue cheese dip, which is what I did, crisp sticks of celery and, if desired, sticks of other raw vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber and bell pepper — vegetables that will also taste great dunked into the blue cheese dip.

Barbecued Buffalo-style Wings

In this perfect-for-summer version of Buffalo wings, instead of deep-frying the wings as is traditionally done, they’re cooked on a barbecue. The wings are then tossed and coated with a rich and addictive hot sauce/melted butter mixture. This recipe, and the blue cheese dip below, could be doubled if feeding a larger group.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 24 to 31 minutes

Makes: 24 wings, two to three servings depending on appetite

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp ancho chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried oregano

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

24 chicken drumettes, or wingettes, or a mix of both (see Note 1)

1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot original hot sauce (see Note 2)

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper, or to taste (see Eric’s options)

• blue cheese dip (see recipe below)

Preheat your barbecue until the temperature in the chamber is about 400 F. Combine the oil, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl large enough to hold the wings. Add the wings and toss to coat.

Set chicken on your barbecue grill and cook two to three minutes on either side, until lightly charred. Move chicken to one side of the barbecue. Turn heat off under the chicken. Leave the other side of the barbecue turned on. Close the lid and cook chicken about 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through. During cooking, check the temperature in the chamber and ensure it stays around 400 F, adjusting the flame as needed.

When chicken is almost cooked, place the hot sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper in a small pot and set over medium heat. Cook and stir just until butter is melted and well combined with the hot sauce. Remove this Buffalo sauce from the heat.

When cooked, place wings in a clean bowl. Spoon over the Buffalo sauce and gently toss to coat the wings. Arrange wings on a platter, spooning any Buffalo sauce left in the bowl over them, and then serve with the blue cheese dip, for dunking the wings into.

Note 1: Most supermarkets sell chicken wingettes, the middle part of the wing, and drumettes, the meatier portion of the wing. If you can’t find them, buy whole wings and cut them yourself.

Note 2: Frank’s RedHot original hot sauce is sold in the condiment aisle of most supermarkets.

Eric’s options: These wings have a medium spice level, but you can make things spicier by doubling or tripling the amount of cayenne pepper added to the melted butter/hot sauce mixture.

Blue Cheese Dip

Rich, tangy blue cheese dip you can dunk your wings into before devour them.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: None

Makes: About 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp Frank’s RedHot original hot sauce

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or minced green onions

• salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 to 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 75 grams)

Place sour cream, mayonnaise, hot sauce, Worcestershire, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley (or green onion), salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Now gently stir in the blue cheese. Transfer the blue cheese dip to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The dip can be made many hours in advance of serving.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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