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Grilled Chicken Wings in Miso Marinade

Grilled miso chicken wings with a side of salad

Garth Brown |

Confession time: I don't like wings very much. At least, I don't like the ones that come from a pizza parlor, deep fried then tossed in so much syrupy sauce that the chicken itself becomes almost undetectable. This recipe takes them the other way. A light marinade adds a bit of richness and complexity without overshadowing the chicken itself, and grilling rather than frying crisps the skin without making it oily.

Though this marinade consists of miso, soy, and mirin, a rice-based cooking wine, it is surprisingly subtle. I like the wings with nothing else, but it's mild enough that after cooking you could toss them in a traditional spicy wing sauce or teriyaki, and either would taste great. It adds a bit of sweetness and a bit of savoriness. The sugars in the mirin help the skin caramelize and crisp.

How to Grill Wings

Wings are much more forgiving than something like a steak, since you don't need to worry nearly so much about overcooking them. But you do want to be careful. The easiest way to get into trouble is a grill that's too hot. You want to preheat it well, but when you actually start cooking the wings, go for low or indirect heat. You're shooting for about half an hour of cooking without burning.

This is easier to manage on a gas grill. Simply preheat on medium-high for about twenty minutes, put on the wings, turn the heat to low, and cook with the lid closed, turning the wings every five or ten minutes. On a charcoal grill you'll want to push the fire to one side and grill on the other.

There's an art to grilling, and the variability from one grill to another makes hard and fast rules difficult; maybe your grill's low is too low, and you need to turn it up a touch. Maybe your charcoal grill is simply too hot, and you need to finish the wings in the oven, which works really well. As long as you cook the wings thoroughly without burning them, you'll be okay.

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