Charleston is one of those cities where the local celebrities are not only those you see on television (see: Southern Charm… sad face), but also the ones that are nominated and/or recipients of a James Beard award. It is true that chefs in the Holy City are so well-known in the culinary world that running into a local “celebri-chef” will often leave you star-struck. If you haven’t already heard of Sean Brock, you should look into Charleston’s arguably most popular and well-renowned chef. As the executive chef at McCrady’s and founder and owner of Husk, Chef Brock has reached culinary stardom. Oh and fun fact: McCrady’s has been around for so long that George Washington, yes, THAT George Washington, visited back during his presidency. Brock has been featured on multiple television shows such as No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain and even featured on PBS’s ‘A Mind of a Chef’ where he is featured in the second season and not only takes the viewer on a culinary adventure in Charleston, Kentucky and Senegal; but also provides a background to the very heart and soul of southern cooking in the Holy City.
In 2014, Chef Brock opened ‘Minero’ on East Bay Street in Historic Downtown Charleston, and has thrived at that location since its opening. Minero was named after the Mexican miners who conceived the first tacos, but thats another blog post. Back to the chicken wings, listed simply on the menu as “Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings doused with Valentina”, at $8.00 for about ten pieces, its a steal and honestly within my Top 3 wings in Charleston. These wings are grilled with charcoal until cooked the skin is crispy and charred (not burned), then brought table-side in a bowl. The server then puts the wings into a plastic lined paper bag, the Valentina is poured into the bag and shaken until the hot, tangy Mexican hot sauce completely covers the that crispy, smoky exterior of the wings. Once the chicken wings are completely coated with Valentina, they are then put back into the bowl and enjoyed. After multiple tries of attempting to make this at home, I think recipe below is pretty damn close!
2 Pounds Whole Chicken Wings
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Teaspoons Hot Hungarian Paprika
2 Tablespoons Cumin
2 Teaspoons of fresh Tarragon
1/4 Cup of Green Onions
1/2 Cup Valentina Hot Sauce
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Banana Pepper (optional)
- Combine the whole wings, 1/4 cup of Valentina, hot paprika, cumin, minced garlic, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
- Massage seasonings and Valentina into the chicken wings and let it marinade for one to two hours. After marinading, transfer to a an oven-safe container. I use a Lodge cast-iron skillet.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the marinated wings into the oven for 30 minutes.
- While the wings are roasting in the oven, chop the tarragon and green onions into 1/8″ pieces and set aside for garnish.
- Remove the wings from the oven and preheat the grill on high (for gas grills) or prepare the charcoal grill for high heat. Your wings should look like the picture below:
- Place the banana pepper (optional) and the wings on the grill at direct high heat and make sure to keep an eye on them. The wings are already cooked at this point, they just need a bit of caramelization on the grill.
- Keep turning the wings until the skin is crispy and charred but not burned, the roasted marinade should be caramelized at this point. Remove from the grill once the proper charring has taken place and into another mixing bowl along with the banana pepper.
- To the freshly grilled wings, add the remaining 1/4 cup of Valentina, making sure to pour the sauce evenly over the wings. Toss until the wings are evenly coated with the Valentina hot sauce.
- Once the wings are coated with Valentina, place them into a serving bowl of your choice and garnish with the roasted banana pepper, chopped tarragon and green onion. Serve and enjoy!
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