Crispy, grilled chicken wings smothered in a sticky, slightly spicy sauce will help you kick off grilling season with a bang. Don’t be afraid of the Habanero in this recipe….it’s the perfect amount of heat!
I’m kicking off grilling season now. I think the “official” start is Memorial Day weekend but why wait? The weather is warm, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the Pollen Vortex has landed smack dab in the middle of my yard. Itchy eyes will not keep me from my grill. I’ve been waiting….and waiting for that snow to melt and the temperatures to climb above Arctic levels. It’s finally time. Let’s get fired up! (Ok, that was a bit corny…but let’s move on.)
I love the idea of cooking with Habanero peppers. They look so cute and innocent until you cut them open….they’re so spicy they will make you’re nostrils burn. Way back in the dark ages when I was in my 20’s, my neighbor grew some and left them on my doorstep. At that time, the Habanero was like an urban legend to me. I had never encountered one in person. I was scared…..scared of a teeny, tiny pepper. I cut one open….touched it to my lip (I know! How dumb!) and proceeded to run around my apartment in immense pain. I will never make that mistake again. But I was challenged….I wanted to make something with them that didn’t require a gallon of milk to squelch the fire in my mouth. So, 15 years later, I finally succeeded. 🙂
Don’t fear the habanero….I adapted a recipe I found here and the cooking process tames the heat to a tolerable level. It’s more of a subtle, lingering heat than a hair on fire, run around like a chicken with its head cut off, pain. The peppers are pureed in a blender with vinegar and lime juice….be aware that the peppers will give off a gas that will singe the hairs in your nose. Be prepared….maybe open a window. It’s going to happen, just deal. The mixture is then brought to a boil with the honey….the cooking process is what tames the heat making these sticky, spicy wings extremely addicting. Don’t worry, your nose hair will grow back.
These Grilled Honey-Habanero Chicken Wings are a great game day snack or the perfect way to start your summer! Be brave and buy some habaneros! They pair well with THESE Bloody Margaritas and a side of THESE incredible homemade chips.
Grilled Honey-Habanero Chicken Wings
Adapted from James Beard Honey-Habanero Wings
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 4 habanero peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 3 pounds chicken wings
- Preheat grill.
- Place the lime juice, vinegar, whole peppers and salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Carefully pour the mixture through a wire mesh sieve into a small bowl and set aside. Discard the solids.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until the butter has browned and smells nutty. Add the habanero vinegar to the butter and stir to combine. (Be careful, the mixture may bubble violently.) Stir in the honey and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Toss the wings in a large bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the wings on the grill and cook until golden and crispy, approximately 7 minutes depending on the temperature of your grill. Turn the wings over and continue to cook until done. Transfer the wings to a large bowl and pour the honey mixture over top. Toss to combine.
- Serve immediately.