There comes a time in every griller’s life—a moment when they make the leap from grilling simple foods like burgers and hot dogs to more challenging proteins like pork tenderloin and butterflied chicken.
But I’m here to tell you that there’s a stepping stone between newbie griller and advanced blue-ribbon pitmaster. A stepping stone composed entirely of chicken wings.
You might never think of making chicken wings in the summer. And I can't blame you. The default chicken-wing preparation is Buffalo wings, and it would be absurd to heat up a big pot of oil and start deep-frying in the middle of a scorchingly hot day.
But chicken wings also take to the grill like a duck to water. (Poultry metaphors!) The skin acts as insulation, protecting the meat from overcooking while getting deliciously scorched and crisp from the grill's heat. And since wings are much smaller than other chicken parts, they cook up way faster (in a mere 15 minutes), making them the ideal appetizer to throw on the grill first, helping to calm ravenous BBQ guests while they wait for the main event.
Even better, since wings cook through so quickly, you don't need to bother with direct/indirect heat zones—just grill them, turning occasionally, over direct medium heat, and they'll turn perfectly golden brown.
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As for seasoning, any favorite marinade will work equally well on chicken wings, and again, since they're so small, they'll soak it up in a flash (or at least in an hour or so).
Just one word to the wise: resist the urge to make your wings even smaller by cutting off the wing tips or separating them into drumettes and "flats" (the flat, two-boned section of the wing). The bigger your wings are, the easier they are to move around on the grill—and those wing tips get nice and toasty, too. Sure, folks will need to pull them apart to eat them, and they'll probably scorch their fingers in the process.
But that's all part of the joy of eating wings in the first place.