I met Colette Cyrus Burnett when she was a contestant and I was a judge on the Food Network show Throwdown! With Bobby Flay. Colette had built a business selling hot wings in a variety of Caribbean flavors at her restaurant Superwings in Brooklyn, New York, so the challenge on the show was a Trinidad hot wings recipe. Colette won the competition handily, and although her wings were scrumptious it was her infectious good vibe that impressed me most. More than that, Colette’s drive to succeed reminded me of my father and so many other Caribbean immigrants before and after him. After the show, we became fast friends and remain so to this day.
In addition to being a food business entrepreneur, Colette has been an inspiration to countless young people whom she has mentored. She also remains a staunch voice for Caribbean cuisine. Colette calls this wings recipe—a particular favorite in her restaurant—her homage to all things Trinidadian, particularly the Trini love of hot peppers. This recipe even won in the U.S. National Buffalo Wing Contest Spicy category. Blending tartness with high heat in just the right balance, these wings are a perfect appetizer for a Super Bowl party or summer picnic, especially accompanied by an ice cold Carib beer.
Put the wings in a large bowl and pour the lime juce over them and add the salt. Rub the salt into the wings and then add enough cold water to cover the wings. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic powder, black pepper, flour, and cornstarch.
Heat the canola oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When a pinch of flour dropped into the oil sizzles, the oil is ready. Pat the chicken wings dry. Dredge each wing in the flour mixture and shake off excess. Place the wings gently in the hot oil without overcrowding them. Fry until golden brown on each side and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. Remove the wings from the pan and place on a wire rack over a sheet tray or on a plate lined with paper towels.
While the wings are frying, make the sauce: Blend the shado beni, lime juice, garlic, chili peppers, and black pepper in a blender until smooth. Add salt to taste. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until reduced by half. Cool completely.
Place the fried wings in a dry skillet over medium heat. Pour enough sauce over the wings to coat completely while stirring to heat them through. Serve garnished with additional chopped shado beni, cilantro, or parsley. (You can store any remaining sauce in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
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