I did this thing for Coca Cola in September of 2018 that aired during the NASCAR Race on NBC on 10/28/2018. In the video, I cooked three tailgating recipes for two NASCAR drivers (Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace). Of course I had to do wings because they are, in my mind, the quintessential tailgating food, mainly because utensils aren’t needed to mow down a mess of wings. Most tailgating set ups don’t have tables, thus making food that needs utensils is not the best idea. You can find the full video of the recipes here and here:
A little more about this recipe. They asked that I take some inspiration from three regions. Virginia, Texas and Arizona. This one was inspired by Arizona with two different chili flavors (ancho and adobo) and I used orange wood to smoke them because of all the orchards in Arizona (something I didn’t know about until I started developing these recipes). So let’s dive in.
Ancho Coffee Wings with Adobo Honey Butter Ingredients:
12 whole chicken wings
3 tsp Turkish ground coffee
5 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
5 tbsp adobo sauce
3 tbsp honey
3/4 stick of butter
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (optional to reduce the heat factor)
Juice of 1 lime
First up, place the wings on cookie cooling racks over baking sheets, salt the chicken liberally on both sides and then put them in the fridge overnight:
Salting the wings and leaving them in the fridge overnight helps to firm up the skin.
The next day, combine the ancho, coffee and brown sugar:
Always apply the rub on the bottom side of the wings first:
Why season the bottom side first? Because the natural shape of the wings will keep the meat elevated off the cutting board and thus the rub won’t stick to the wood. If done the other way first, you will wind up having to reapply the seasoning. Now season the tops:
Some of you are wondering about the coffee. It’s an amazing addition to just about any rub and we’ve used it on steak and salmon, as well as ribs. It adds a great earthiness to any rub that is phenomenal. Remember to grind it as fine as possible. Turkish if you can. And feel free to run it through twice if you can.
Now prepare the grill for two zone grilling. In the case of my Char-Griller AKORN here, I put the smokin’ stone between the heat and the grill grate because it is a kamado style grill one can buy for a fraction of the cost of a typical ceramic kamado. The smokin’ stone allows for the heat to pass up and around the wings, imparting that wonderful smoke flavor without overcooking the chicken.
On a conventional grill, place coals on one side and the meat on the other. Target temp inside the grill is 275 with a couple chunks of orange wood on the hot coals:
Smoke the wings for 40 minutes.
While the wings are smoking, it’s time to make the sauce. Open the chipotle pepper cans and extract the wonderful adobo sauce, leaving the peppers behind:
You might need sieve/strainer to get all the liquid deliciousness out:
Next add the honey:
Put it on a burner on the stove with the butter:
Bring it to a boil:
Reduce to a simmer and blend thoroughly:
It doesn’t take long for the sauce to thicken with that much honey in it so once it reduces, take it off the heat and head out to the grill (about 20 minutes). The wings are browning up nicely:
Time to brush some adobo honey butter on those ancho coffee wings:
Close the lid to let the sauce thicken and absorb more smoke. Add more sauce every 5-10 minutes. After the first application of sauce, the wings will look like this:
After a couple more applications, the wings will look like this:
Once the wings hit 180 degrees, they are ready go.
You can garnish with sliced peppers and cilantro but you don’t have to. That’s more for presentation than anything.
But don’t forget the limes. Squeeze a lime over the top:
And here we are, paired beautifully with some ice cold Coke, which you are going to need, because these wings have some serious heat:
But how do they taste? First, these ancho coffee wings with adobo honey butter are hot. But the heat doesn’t hit right away. It takes a few seconds for it to kick in which means that the glaze is well balanced and not just a slap in the face with heat. The heat is balanced nicely with sweetness of the honey and brown sugar and that earthy flavor of the coffee rounds it out beautifully. Don’t forget the Coca Cola to offset the heat of the wings.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
- 12 whole chicken wings
- Coarse salt
- 3 tsp Turkish ground coffee
- 5 tsp ancho chili powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 5 tbsp adobo sauce
- 3 tbsp honey
- ¾ stick of butter
- ½ cup barbecue sauce (optional to reduce the heat factor)
- Juice of 1 lime
- Place the wings on a cookie cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and salt on both sides
- Put the rack of wings in the fridge overnight
- The next day, combine the coffee, ancho and brown sugar and dust both sides of the wings
- Prepare the grill for two zone grilling with a target temp of 275 and orange wood for the smoke
- While the wings are smoking, combine the adobo sauce, honey and butter in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it thicken for about 20 minutes
- After the wings have smoked for about 40 minutes, slather with the sauce
- Close the lid and let the sauce absorb the smoke
- Reapply the sauce every 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thick and gooey
- Once the wings make it to 180f plate, squeeze a lime over the top, and serve