Spicy Grilled Chicken Wings

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Chicken wings may be cheap, but they can become quite special when marinated and spiced and then grilled until the skin crisps. Supermarkets sell them in large packs, as the near give-away bonus of dismembering birds to sell as breast, drumstick and thigh joints. Looking at the size of some of these wings and extrapolating from them to the stature of the whole chicken can lead to uneasy thoughts about their life-style. You have never seen a chicken that big because, if you had, it would stick in the memory. β€˜I was driving past Chix-Stix pic the other day when a chicken the size of an ostrich ran across the road.’ Perhaps they are raised secretly in giant percheries and fed a diet of anabolic steroids and growth hormones, so better not give them to the children too often unless of course you want them to be professional basketball players.

Because they are high in fat, the wings take a lot longer to get crisp than you might think; even after 20-25 minutes’ grilling they will not be overdone. Start cooking about 13-15 cm/5-6 in away from the grill to avoid burning the outside before they are cooked around the bones. Turn frequently and move them closer to the heat once the wings start to brown properly. If your grill is quite small, you will need to cook them in two batches. Keep the first batch warm while cooking the second then, when they are done, return the first batch to the grill and re-crisp briefly.


  • 18-24 large chicken wings, depending on size
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 hot chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tbsp Zagzoug & Matbouli Middle Eastern Worcestershire sauce (substitute Lea & Perrins if unobtainable)
  • 3 lemons
  • 100 ml/3Β½ fl oz olive oil
  • 12-18 spring onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

To Serve



Cut each chicken wing through the joints into 3 pieces, discarding the tips or freezing them to add to your next stock pot.

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, then grind to a powder and put this into a bowl.

Destalk and deseed the chillies and cut into very tiny dice. Peel, smash and finely chop the garlic. Add to the bowl of spices, together with the diced chilli, the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces, the juice of the 3 lemons and the oil. Season and stir well.

Put them into a large zip-lock bag (or 2 bags if there are too many for one) and add the marinade. Zip closed and leave for 4 hours, turning and shaking from time to time. Alternatively, marinate at room temperature for 2 hours and refrigerate overnight, removing from the refrigerator 2 hours before grilling.


Grill about 15 cm/6 in away from the flame or electric elements, turning frequently. Baste at intervals with the marinade.

Trim the spring onions and brush them with the marinade and reserve.

Just before you judge the wings are done, preheat a ridged grill pan. When hot, toss the spring onions in it until they are marked with charred stripes and slightly wilted.


When the wings are done, put them on a large warmed serving plate. Scatter the onions over and a handful of chopped coriander leaves. Put a quarter of lime or lemon on each plate and put a pot of harissa on the table for brave hearts to help themselves or tone it down a bit by mixing the harissa half and half with cold Quick Tomato Sauce. This makes a terrific spicy dipping sauce. This has to be finger food, so bowls of warm water with lemon juice beside each plate and plenty of paper napkins will be appreciated.

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