I was recently asked to cater a launch for my wife’s new business. She wanted her guests to mingle and network and so the brief was simple: healthy, canapé style food. (If you’re not familiar with the word, canapé just means ‘fancy finger food’.) With that in mind, I came up with the two choices of chicken wings: Buffalo Wings and a Jamaican Wing known as Jerk. She ordered both.
Typically, if you order chicken wings in a restaurant, you’re going to get chicken pieces that are deep fried and smothered in a sugary sauce. Whilst there is no doubt that this is delicious, a serving of only five pieces is going to set you back nearly 900 calories… not a great choice for a launch for a health food business!
This is where the beauty of the recipes for my chicken wings come in: there is no deep frying, and no sugar. Just maximum flavour.
Now, these recipes are quite complex: my Buffalo Wings involve vinegar and about a dozen different spices, but it doesn’t have to be this hard. If you go to any major chain of BBQ stores, and even a lot of supermarkets, you’ll be able to find pre-made spice mixes to put on your chicken wings. Some even come packaged with a complimentary sauce – just be careful with these sauces if you’re trying to be healthy: one I used once required an entire stick of butter to be melted into the sauce. A whole stick!
Prepping your chicken wings is super easy. With a sharp knife, you need to ‘joint’ your chicken wings. This means cutting through the wings at the joints, separating them into three pieces. My dog loves when I cook chicken wings because she gets to eat all the tip pieces. I cooked several kilos for this launch so she was a very happy puppy.
In the largest size zip lock bag you can find, put in your wing pieces. Then coat them nice and evenly with your spice rub. Zip up the bag and put them in a tray in case there are any leaks, and then put them in the fridge for at least four hours: overnight is even better.
Thirty minutes before you’re ready to cook, take the wings out of the fridge and put them on your kitchen bench to start rising to room temperature.
Now it’s time to pre-heat your BBQ. You’re going to want to use the hotplate for this so set your BBQ to a 1/4 heat setting (medium-low) and let it warm up.
When it’s ready, put some Sunflower Oil on your hotplate and work it around using your spatula. Open a zip lock bag and pour on your chicken wings, being careful not to splash any oil on yourself. If you’ve used the right amount of oil, this shouldn’t be a problem. Position your wings on the hotplate so they are not touching each other (as much as possible) and also try to put your ‘drumstick’ pieces in the hotter areas and the ‘flat’ pieces in the cooler areas. This is because the ‘flat’ pieces will cook faster than the ‘drumstick’ pieces so putting the ‘drumstick’ pieces in the hotter areas should balance this out.
Not sure where the hotter areas are in your BBQ? That’s okay: it’s something that you’ll come to realise the more you use your BBQ. If you’re not sure, just move the cooked off pieces off to the side so they stay warm but don’t overcook while you’re waiting for the other pieces.
I like to put the first batch in a baking tray and move them off to the side where they will be kept warm by the indirect heat.
When you’re done, put both batches in your tray and bring them inside: just make sure you remember which is which so you can let people know which are the spicy ones! From here you can plate them up however you like. I’m fortunate in that I have a beautiful cutting board so I was able to present mine in a clear baking tray on my stunning cutting board and get away with it.
The guests were happy, my wife was very happy, and the launch was a great success. It was a win-win for everybody involved.