Recently we were approached by Joe Bonwich to help out with an article he was doing about Ski soda to develop some recipes where soda was used in the cooking process. We were more than happy to oblige with these orange soda hot wings. Ski is an icon in Southern Illinois. It’s a must try. Joe’s article can be found here and this particular recipe can be found here, that is if you don’t want to actually go out and buy the newspaper.
The first recipe from that day of epic grilling, that included both brisket marinated in Dr. Pepper and pork tenderloin brined in root beer, was smoked chicken wings in an orange soda and hot sauce glaze.
Orange Soda Hot Wings Ingredients:
3/4 cup orange soda
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup melted butter, divided and reserved for the grilling process
1 dozen chicken wings
Salt and black pepper
Combine the orange soda, hot sauce, ginger, garlic, Chinese five spice, 2 tbsp butter in sauce pan and reduce to the thickness of syrup. We used Frank’s red hot for this, but Crystal or Louisiana would work well too. If you wanted to kick it up even hotter, go with Tobasco.
For those of you who have never worked with ginger, there’s nothing to it. It’s a root and looks like this:
You have to peal away the outer skin with a knife or a veggie peeler:
What’s left is a starchy chunk of lemony goodness:
About half that chunk came out to be a full teaspoon of ginger. Here’s the sauce pan with the wet ingredients cooking down:
Time to prep the chicken wings:
I only did a dozen for this demonstration. If you plan on doing more, feel free to up the amounts in the glaze.
All they need right now is a dusting of salt and pepper, but not on that side above first because if I do, when I flip them over to get the other side, all the salt and pepper is going to stick to the platter. Flip the chicken wings over and give them a dusting on the bottom side first:
And then flip them over and do the other side and allow the natural shape of the wing to keep most of the meat elevated off the platter and thus the salt and pepper on the skin. Same deal if applying a rub to wings or ribs:
It turns out that useless little end of the wing has a good use after all; to prop the wing up to maximize the rub staying stuck to the skin.
Now melt the other couple tablespoons of butter and get out to the grill that is prepped for two zone grilling (coals on one side, nothing on the other). You’re looking for an internal temp of the grill to be between 250-300. Put the chicken wings on the side with no coals:
The smoke wood we used was Bradford pear, cut fresh from the tree that morning. We’re looking to dispel a couple myths here. Many believe that ornamental fruit trees aren’t as good as regular fruit trees and that green wood shouldn’t be used in smoking. Both are false. Myron Mixon uses the greenest peach he can find and he’s not too shabby around the pit. It takes a little while to get smoking, but that’s the only drawback.
Now here I am brushing the chicken wings with the melted butter to help brown the skin:
After an hour in the smoke the skin is browning nicely:
Time to put the smoked chicken wings over the direct heat:
And then hit them with a little butter to help to firm that skin up:
That’s Joe Bonwich applying the butter. The fire was a little hotter than we expected and we had to yank a few of those wings back before they were torched.
Once we grilled the smoked chicken wings on both sides to firm the skin up, it was time to apply the orange soda hot sauce. It’s a little more orange than BBQ sauce as to be expected:
Pull the orange soda hot wings off the heat and back over to the side with no coals to allow the sauce to set on the smoked chicken wings after the sear to caramelize:
That was another helping hand from Joe as he dove in to assist move the wings to the other side. The guy is definitely willing to get his hands dirty to perfect his craft.
Pull the orange soda hot wings from the grill in 5-7 minutes and serve. Here is a picture that appeared in the Post Dispatch as well as on their website and was taken by Stephanie Cordle:
Some are wondering why not sear and then smoke? Once the outside temperature of the skin gets to a certain temperature, it no longer allows any smoke to penetrate the meat. I smoke first to impart that flavor, then I sear to get that flavor crust and the caramelizing of the proteins. This method gets the smoke flavor and then the flavor crust. That’s why I went with the smoke chicken wings first. It’s called the reverse sear method.
If you have any questions about the orange soda hot wings, feel free to shoot me an email or leave it below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
If you like this recipe and are interested in other poultry dishes we’ve done on the grill, click here.
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I posted some pictures on the facebook page of all the grilling we did that day. You can find the album here.
- ¾ cup orange soda
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup melted butter, divided and reserved for the grilling process
- 1 dozen chicken wings
- Salt and black pepper
- Combine the orange soda, hot sauce, ginger, garlic, Chinese five spice, 2 tbsp butter in sauce pan and reduce to the thickness of syrup
- Dust both sides of wings with salt and pepper
- Melt the rest of the butter in a pan
- Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target temperature of the grill is 250
- Put the chicken wings on the side with no coals
- Brush the wings with the melted butter to help brown the skin
- Close the lid for an hour
- Put the smoked wings over the direct heat
- Hit them with a little butter to help to firm that skin up
- Brush on the orange soda hot sauce
- Put the orange soda hot wings on the side with no coals to thicken the glaze for 5-7 minutes
- Remove from the heat and serve