Fire-Eater Chicken Wings
Serves 6 as an appetizer.
Note: Pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) can be found at most supermarkets or online at tienda.com. For a smokier flavor, grill the wings indirectly over charcoal that has 1 1/2 cups of soaked drained wood chips on them. From “Man Made Meals,” by Steven Raichlen.
For the chicken wings and spice mixture:
• 3 to 3 1/2 lb. chicken wings
• 1 tbsp. pimentón or sweet paprika
• 1 tsp. coarse salt (kosher or sea)
• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp. onion or garlic powder
• 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
• 1/2 tsp. celery seed, optional
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil, plus extra for oiling the wire rack
For the sauce:
• 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 3 to 6 jalapeño peppers (preferably red) or other hot peppers (depends on your tolerance for heat), thinly sliced
• 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
• 1/2 c. Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot or Tabasco, to taste
• 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke, optional
To prepare chicken wings: Cut each chicken wing through the joints into 2 sections, the drumette (the part that looks like a little drumstick) and the flat, discarding the wing tips (or save them for stock). Place the wings in a large mixing bowl.
Combine the pimentón, salt, black pepper, onion or garlic powder, cayenne and celery seed in a small bowl, and mix them with your fingers. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken wings and toss to mix. Add the olive oil and toss to mix.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a wire rack over an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Oil the rack with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
Arrange chicken wings on the wire rack. Bake until browned and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes, turning them once or twice with tongs. To check for doneness, make a slit in the thickest part of the largest drumette; there should be no traces of pink.
To prepare the sauce: Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is hot, bubbles will dance when you dip a slice of jalapeño in it. Add the jalapeños and cilantro to the butter and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and let the mixture come to a boil. Add a few drops of liquid smoke, if desired.
Transfer baked chicken wings to a large shallow serving bowl. Pour the sauce over them and toss to mix.