Jess Pryles

Spicy Grilled Yucatán Chicken Wings

spicy yucatan chicken wings
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Boost the heat factor on these spicy Yucatán chicken wings by drizzling with a generous pour of habanero citrus sauce.

This recipe was born out of a Super Bowl brainstorming session. Wings are arguably the unofficial food of football, but what flavor is truly befitting a championship game? Spicy! See, whether your team wins or loses, you’re probably going to be shedding a few tears. At least this way you can blame it on the food!

achiote pibil wings being grilled

These wings are given a thorough soaking in a pibil style marinade. Pibil hails from the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, with the hallmark ingredients being lots of citrus juice and a bright orange paste known as Achiote. Made from ground Annatto seeed, Achiote gives the meat such an incredible tangerine hue. Traditionally, food prepared pibil style is then cooked in a banana leaf, though that’s a little impractical for wings.

Yucatan style calls for more earthiness than spice, but I prefer to add a few additional chilies and warm things up a little. To crank the heat factor even higher, I drizzle these wings with my Habanero Citrus Sauce – a little sweet, a lot of heat. Add as much or little as you can handle.

spicy chicken wings with habanero sauce

To make sure your food is both safe and juicy I recommend you invest in a decent thermometer and get your temperatures right. I use the super fast & accurate Thermapen. Whatever you use, make sure you take the reading from the thickest part of the wing. Do not let the thermometer touch bone as this will give a falsely high reading. Technically, 165f is the safe temperature for chicken, but your meat will continue to cook and rise a few degrees after you pull it off the grill. Taking it off between 160-162f will ensure it’s safe to eat, while remaining as moist as possible.

I used whole three-section wings for this recipe because they’re a little more substantial, but you can easily substitute with drummettes if you prefer to nibble on those. Just make sure you have enough paper towels ready for the aftermath.

full chicken wings with spicy marinade

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Spicy Grilled Yucatán Chicken Wings

To create the marinade, I use an immersion/stick blender to emulsify this sauce, you can also use a blender or food processor.

Get the recipe for Habanero Citrus Sauce here

Ingredients

  • 2.5-3 lb chicken wings
  • 3.5 oz can chipotle peppers in adobo
  • zest & juice of 1 orange
  • Zest & juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ancho powder
  • 1 teaspoon guajillo powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Chopped cilantro & Habanero Citrus Sauce to garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place chicken wings in a large zip top bag.

  2. In a high sided container (for blending), place the chipotle peppers, orange & lime zest and juice, achiote paste, garlic, ancho, guajillo, oil, water and salt. Use a stick blender to combine all ingredients until well blended.

  3. Pour the marinade into the bag and distribute well to coat all the wings. Seal the bag and place into the fridge to marinade at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

  4. Pre-heat a grill to medium high. Place the wings directly over the heat, turning every 3-4 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 160-162f. If the wings are developing color too quickly, move them to the edge of the hot zone, so they can continue to cook without burning.

  5. Once they reach the correct temperature, pile the wings high on a plate and drizzle with Habanero Citrus sauce and a generous sprinkle of cilantro. Serve immediately.

By Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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