I’ve been barbecuing a lot in the last couple of weeks, as the UK has sunburned its way through a heat wave. Recently I’ve been experimenting with old-fashioned barbecue sauce, and I think I’ve finally come up with a pretty much world-beating home-made version. (Of course, any recipe which starts with eight tablespoons of ketchup can barely be called a recipe – but I hope you’ll let me off this time.) This is a great marinade and baste, and is thick enough to stay on the wings as they cook. If you baste well during cooking, it will caramelise into a dense, sticky-crispy layer on the skin, making wings just aching to be torn apart with fingers and popped into your mouth.
Chicken wings are one of the best things in the world on the barbecue. The flesh is succulent and sweet because of the proximity to the bone, they cook (and marinade) faster than a larger joint would, and all that lovely skin crisps up to a mahogany deliciousness. To marinade ten chicken wings, tips removed, you’ll need:
8 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce (use your favourite – I like Kampong Koh or Sriracha)
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 tablespoons muscavado sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Tabasco chipotle sauce
2 teaspoons ground chipotle peppers (use ground cayenne if you can’t find chipotle)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and marinade the chicken wings for about eight hours. (You can cut down on this with a vacuum container like a SealSaver, which is what I did.) Cook on the barbecue (or under the grill indoors if the weather is bad), which should not be blistering hot, for 15 minutes, turning regularly and basting each time you turn with the remaining marinade.
A note on the balsamic vinegar: don’t use the best stuff that you keep for salads. A cheaper version will do here. I like Aspall’s balsamic for cooking. Maille also do a very good balsamic vinegar, but I’ve not seen it outside France – if anyone knows of any stockists here, please leave a note in the comments!