by Steve Bivans
[The following is a kind-of-but-not-really sequel to Jim Carrey, Freefalling, and Chicken Wings: How to Do What You Love Without Becoming Road Pizza, where I compared my attempts to stave off a financial free-fall into road pizza with flapping de-feathered chicken wings. You can read it first, if you want to be dazzled with wit, or plow ahead and read this one if all you really want to know is how to make kick ass jerk chicken wings, after I ramble on about them for a bit, of course,]
I love chicken wings.
I could eat them almost every day. I’ve never actually attempted to do that—mostly because they’re cost prohibitive these days—but I suspect that I could devour, in wings, the equivelent to the weight of a medium sized dragon, like Smaug. I wonder if ole Smaug’s wings would have been tasty? I bet they would have fed twelve dwarves and a Hobbit with ease.
I can eat wings just about any ole way, too. Well, I don’t really want them boiled, but baked, grilled, or fried? Hell yeah.
I remember when wings were practically given away to kids as Kentucky Fried Chicken’s version of a ‘happy meal’ back in the 70s. Seriously! They would serve them to the kids super cheap because almost no one ate them. They were the bastard child of the chicken. I mean, think about it. There’s very little meat on them, or at least back then there wasn’t, you know, before growth hormones and genetic engineering enhanced our food, or Frankensteined it into oblivion. Chicken wings were tiny, so they tossed them into the kid’s meal.
Then those Yankees in upstate New York introduced us all to the wonders of buffalo sauce and the world has never been the same. I remember when it took off. Yeah, I’m that old. It was in the mid 80s when the spicy red sauce reached North Carolina, and there probably wasn’t much lag there since we were constantly invaded by waves of Yankee retirees back then. I’m sure one of them brought the recipe along. I’ve been meaning to thank him or her for a long time.
I was sitting in the cheesy bar at the Sheridan Inn in New Bern, N.C. one night looking for something to snack on that went with beer, when I stumbled across ‘buffalo wings’ on the menu. I had never heard of such a thing, so I asked the bartender, “What the hell are buffalo wings?”
“Ahhh, you gotta try’em! This recipe comes from some lady in New York!”
I’m sure the recipe actually came from a bottle of Durkee’s—now known as ‘Frank’s Red Hot,’ but hey, I was sold and my life has never been the same. I’ve probably eaten a few thousand pounds worth since then. And I doubt that’s an exaggeration. I love’em. Back in the 80s and early 90s, you could get them for about 10 to 20 cents a piece! They were just taking off, and I reckon the chicken producers had plenty of them since no one wanted them. Now, of course, you can’t spit without hitting a restaurant serving them and the price is ridiculous. Good ole ‘supply and demand’ at work I guess.
I’ve had some really good ones over the years. Hell, I could write a book on it. Maybe I will one of these days. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Nope. I’m here to talk about some sauce to put on your own flapping chicken wings when you hit the ground and are transformed into chicken parts or road pizza.
I have no idea where this is going at this point. I kind of started off writing about wings, so I could ease into my recipe for Jamaican Jerk sauce, but now I seem to have drifted into nostalgia about wings in general, and there’s no philosophical point I’m trying to make other than wings are awesome, which everyone already knows, or at least you do since you’re reading this. Of course, if you’re not reading this, then maybe you hate chicken wings, or you’re a vegetarian or broccolli murdering vegan or something and you’re reading something entirely different, and just as pointless, and you don’t really care where this article-slash-recipe is going. I’m not sure where I got off track.
It’s probably my kitty’s fault.
That would be Squishy Kitty, the Squish, the Squishinator, or as she likes to be called, the Dread Pirate Squish.
Squish is the ruler of the house, excuse me, the ship. She gives orders with a heavy dose of disdain for the rest of us ‘swabbies’ on deck. She’s only two years old, which in cat years is about, I don’t know, ten thousand? As far as Captain Squish is concerned, it’s infinity. She is God, the great and poweful Shiva, the creator, the destroyer, and must be worshipped. She runs a very tight ship, mostly while she’s asleep.
I wonder what she’s dreaming about when she’s sleeping. I suspect she’s chasing down wounded wildebeests on the Serengeti plain, enacting her version of Darwinian Natural Selection. Or she’s batting chickens (otherwise known as the birds in the back yard) out of the air so she and her sister, Punkin’, can eviscerate and devour them. Or she’s the Dread Pirate Squishy, terrorizing the seas of the Carribean in a never ending quest to find the perfect Jerk Chicken Wings. And now I think I’ve finally managed to segue into the intended topic. That was smooth wasn’t it?
Not so much. Fuck it. We’re here, and that’s all that matters, right? Just pretend that the article is our pirate ship and that it has been bouncing around in a Category 6 hurricane, and now the broken detritus of the ship, including ourselves, has finally washed ashore of some enchanted desert isle, like Gilligan and the Skipper, too. I just hope Mary Ann was on board. But I digress.
I love pirates.
When I was growing up I always wanted to be one. But I guess it’s like Jimmy Buffett said, “two hundred years too late.” Since I can’t be a pirate, like Squish, I’ll have to settle for pirate food, and booze. And what better combo could there be than a Pina Colada and some Jerk Chicken wings? It’s all about the rum and the spice my friend. Throw in a little sand and some Bob Marley and you’re ready to set sail! This article is all over the place, isn’t it? Whatever. Let’s eat!
The following recipe for jerk sauce is one I came up with a couple years ago because I was suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is something you get if you’re too far north in the winter and the sun never shines. Never is a slight exaggeration I reckon, but close enough. Even when it’s sunny, it doesn’t last that long in Minnesnowta. So by the time I get to February and March, I’m Jonesin’ for sunshine, beaches, salty air, and spicy chicken wings.
To shed the winter blues that year, we decided to throw a Carribean beach party on the front porch of my old house, so we brought in about six bags of play sand, some tacky decorations from a party store—grass skirts, plastic coconut cups, little drink umbrellas, a couple of straw hats, and a fake parrot—and we were practically sitting in Boston Bay waiting on a Hurricane, Category 6! While I was mixing up the hurricanes, I decided to try my hand at a Jerk Sauce for chicken wings, or whatever. It’s really good on pork, too.
Having never created jerk sauce before—not a deterrent—I did what every professionalllle chef would do. I Googled it. I looked at several jerk recipes–both rubs and sauces–to get an idea of what the basics of jerk was. After coming up with a list of essential spices and ingredients, I broke out the ole blender, turned up the reggae, mixed up a pitcher of Hurricane Steves, definitely Cat 6, started drinking and riffing on the sauce. I work best after about four or five glasses of booze. I began tossing in ingredients and blending them like mad while gyrating to Buffalo Soldier and I Shot the Sherriff, and what came out in the end was the best blimey jerk sauce on the planet. My god it was amazing. I knocked it out of the park on the first try. But there was problem. Mainly that I perfected it on my first go. That almost never happens with sauces.
There would have been no proble, if I were one of those clinical, scientific chefs who meticulously measure everything they do and subsequently create shitty food. But I rarely measure anything, especially when I’m half cocked on rum and dancing barefoot to reggae in March in Minnesnowta. I was just riffin’ man, tossin’ in molases, allspice, and habeneras like a crazed pirate burning his way across the Spanish Main. “Arrrgh! We don’ need no stinking measurements!” I reckon you don’t, unless you want to recreate it one day. And when I went back the next month to do it, all I had was a list of ingredients: not a single measurement to be seen on the vast, featureless sea. Damn it. So I fucked up the second batch.
I tried to recreate the scene, like it was a murder investigation. I turned up the reggae, drank too much rum—or maybe there’s no such thing as too much—took off my shoes, and started to work. But I had way too much of one ingredient—rum actually (so you can have too much of it, and one can argue all day whether my drinking too much was the cause or the effect)—and no matter how much of the other crap I threw in there, it was the proverbial, good-after-bad situation, so after cussing myself for about 30 minutes or more, I tossed the entire batch, rum and all, down the sink. That was painful.
Luckily I was buzzed, so I didn’t start weeping or anything. That would be very un-manly, and un-pirate like, and I’m sure Captain Squish would have flogged me for it, so I refrained.
It took me several days to recover from that—I’m sure the overindulgence in rum had something to do with the length of recovery—and I went back to the drawing board. The third time was indeed the charm, and what I came up with is simply amazing. I know, it sounds cocky. Deal with it. I’m a master when it comes to sauces. Just ask my friends, even the foodie ones. I rock. Of course, the Dread Pirate Squish secretly knows that the recipe actually originated in her mind, which she subsequently projected into my mind like some kind of pirate-Jedi-mind-trick, all while she was dreaming of pillaging Barbados. I think she’s probably gonna sue me at some point. She’s also the Dread Lawyer Squish in another incarnation and dimension.
I also created a Spotify music mix for just the occasion. So if you’re a listener on Spotify, mix up a Hurricane Cat 6, start drinkin’ and dancing to the sounds of the surf. I call it A Week at the Beach: Six Bags of Sand and a Bottle of Rum. “Yo, ho, yo, ho, a pirate’s life for me…” Squishy’s favorite song.
I have two recipes to accommodate all but the wimpiest of pirates. The first is what we’ll call, The Cute Pirate Punkin’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce.
Punkin’ is Squish’s tiny twin sister, who is super sweet and spends about 20 hours a day curled up sucking on her tail like a binky. Cutest damend thing ever. So her sauce is very tasty, but very mild and sweet. It’s also the base for what follows: the Dread Pirate Squishy’s version. That one will blow a hole through your broadside and send you down to Davy Jones’ Locker. So mix up the Punkin’ version first. Save half of it for your landlubber friends, and the other half we’ll kick up for the true pirates at the party.
The Cute Pirate Punkin’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce
- coconut oil 1/4cp
- molasses 1/4cupfd
- raw/unfiltered honey 1/4cp
- Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (any dark rum) 1/8 cup
- Juices (freshly squeezed): 2 limes, 1 orange
- 1 small onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- fresh pineapple (you can use canned, too) 1/2 cup
- thyme-fresh 1 tsp
- Spices, dry
- cloves 1 tsp
- allspice 1tsp
- cinnamon 1 tsp
- nutmeg 1tsp
- ginger 1tsp
- black pepper 1tablespoon
- cayenne pepper- 1tablespoon
- sea salt, dash
(while you’re shopping for the above, also buy 6 fresh habenero peppers, for the Dread Pirate Squishy recipe)
In no particular order, throw all ingredients (not the habeneros) into a blender/processor and liquify them. Pour into an appropriate glass container. I usually pour half of it into a smaller jar, and then use the other half–still in the blender–to create…
Dread Pirate Squishy’s Jamaican Jerk Sauce
If you want to terrorize the seas, and your lips, tongue, intestines, and other places, then you need to add some ‘gunpowder’ to the recipe. To the mild sauce still in the blender, add the 6 fresh habanero peppers. Pull or cut off the stems, and toss them into the blender, seeds and all. Crank it up to hurricane speed for a minute. The result is amazing. Personally I think the mild version is too mild. You can of course blend the two together to make a ‘medium’ sauce.
That’s it, done. All you have to do now is grill or fry up some chicken wings and dip them in the sauce. I never toss them all in the sauce. I hate chicken wing ‘soup’. As awesome as this sauce is, it’s still only meant to enhance the flavor of the chicken, not to cover it up. It’s also great with BBQ pulled pork, too. If you wanna learn how to make real BBQ, then click HERE. Happy sailing! Oh yeah, don’t forget to mix up the rum drinks and pour the sand on the porch, or your kitchen floor.