This is undoubtedly one of my favourite party foods and a crowd pleaser.
I was recently asked for a few recipes for a virtual food and wine tasting event, and one of the recipes I put together was my 'Jerk Chicken Wings'. The recipe calls for a jerk marinade from Suzanne's Hot Stuff, but any marinade will do. If you are adventurous kind, you can make your own jerk seasoning using this recipe.
The Origins of Jerk Seasoning
The jerk method of preparing foods was created by the indigenous people of the Caribbean (the Taino). They then taught the cooking method to the enslaved Africans, primarily in Jamaica. Jerk refers to blending an array of spices, coating the meat, and slow cooking it over a fire. Though many, when speaking of 'Jerk', refer to chicken, you can jerk any protein you would like and even tofu with incredible results.
Alsatian Riesling is a guaranteed winner as a pairing wine with jerk chicken.
In Alsace, this grape benefits from a lengthy amount of sunshine, helping its ripeness, but still retains its acidity from cooler nights. Aromas of bosc pear, golden delicious apple skin, lemon pith, and white flowers. Lemon rind, green apple, apricot, pear, peach, and honey are on the palate. You end up with a white wine with crisp acidity, bright fruit on the palate, and great complexity.
Riesling, hands down, is a sure-fire winner for jerk dishes if you want minimal exploration.
This is a grape not to be slept on when it comes to pairing jerk chicken with wine.
Grüner Veltliner produces a dry white wine, is the most planted grape in Austria, and is arguably the most internationally known.
With Austrian Grüner Veltliner, you'll find common traits of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and nectarine. You'll even pick up white pepper, ginger, and honey in more choice expressions.
The fruit on Grüner Veltliner on the palate comes with a perception of ripeness, providing a sense of sweetness that will help cut the jerk's peppery notes. This grape also has thick skin, providing an excellent coating (phenolics) on the tongue to soothe the pepper. Lastly, Grüner is known for its high acidity, a blessing when pairing food and wine!
Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain, is a must-have if looking to pair your jerk chicken with a red wine.
Tempranillo is indigenous to Spain, and their expression of this grape in the glass produces a red wine that leaves a slight but luscious stain on your glass. Tempranillo is highly aromatic, with blue and black fruit, fig, and subtle rose. As more and more producers are experimenting with aging vessels, the distinct coconut and dill notes from American oak are not constantly prevalent. Some producers are now using French oak, and in some cases, both. When a producer uses both American and French oak, it gives the wine an exceptional edge, as that vanilla and dill essence is a killer combination on its own.
Tempranillo's fruit structure applies sweetness right across the palate, and those in balance provide a long finish that will stand up and compliment the seasonings in your jerk sauce.
Jerk Chicken Wings Recipe
5 lbs chicken wings
1 yellow onion - chopped
1 scallion - minced
3 cloves of fresh garlic - minced
3 tbsp maple syrup
350 ml of wet jerk seasoning
After your chicken wings have been rinsed and cleaned, place them in a bowl.
Thoroughly cover chicken wings with your jerk seasoning and let sit for 30 minutes, covered, on the counter.
Leave at least 3 tbsp of the marinade behind. We'll need it later.
Preheat the oven to 375℃.
After 30 minutes, place the contents of the bowl, wings, and marinade in a baking pan.
Add onion, scallion, and garlic, cover pan, and place in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove pan from oven and get rid of at least 1/2 of the water in your pan that originated from the natural moisture of your chicken while baking.
Then add maple syrup. Use a spoon to mix in thoroughly.
Then add the 3 tbsp of Jammin Jerk Marinade and thoroughly mix it in as well.
Increase the heat in your oven to 450 and put wings back in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes and then serve!