One thing I like to do is to take a traditional recipe and put a California spin on it. Daughters Miriam and Eilene love Japanese curry. I decided to take the curry out of the stew and marinate my chicken wings with it.
I had decided to separate the meat from the rest of this Japanese curry stew. The original stew recipe usually includes potatoes, carrots, and apples. Since I am making barbecued wings, I decided to push these ingredients into a side dish—an Indian influenced Japanese potato salad. Jan asked that I also make a rice pudding for dessert.
Note: Some may notice that I do not toast the spices before grinding them—this is called “blooming”—a very common step in Indian cooking. When you take this step depends a lot on whether you are adding your spice blend to a dry or wet pan—if you put your spices directly into a liquid, they never get hot enough to become fragrant. Half of my curry powder is going to be heated when I first put the chicken wings on the grill. If I pre-toasted the spices, they would then burn in the heat of the fire. I will “bloom” the rest of the spice mix when I add it to my roux, before adding the liquids.
After Dinner Note: While Miriam and Eilene both liked both the wings and potato salad, they still preferred actual Japanese curry. The made me promise to make it one Sunday soon.
Karl’s Japanese Curry Chicken Wings
16-18 chicken wings
1-2 tsp. Kosher salt
Karl’s Curry Powder for Japanese Curry
1 Tbs. coriander seeds
1 Tbs. teaspoons cumin seeds
1 Tbs. turmeric, ground
2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
½ tsp. black peppercorns
½ tsp. white pepper, ground
¼ tsp. cinnamon, ground
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
⅛ tsp. nutmeg, ground
6 whole cloves
6 green cardamom pods
2 allspice berries
2 small Indian bay leaves
1 black cardamom pod, seeds only (~ ¼ tsp)
1 small star anise
1 Tbs. butter
1½ Tbs. AP flour
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. Karl’s Curry Powder for Japanese Curry
1-2 apples, finely grated
8+ oz. low sodium chicken broth
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. garam masala
1. Remove the wing tips and sprinkle the salt all over the wings.
Tip: Save the wing tips for making chicken stock.
Note: Sometimes I separate the wing flats and drumettes. For this dish I decided to keep them together, because it is easier to turn them on the barbecue without some of them slipping through the grill.
2. Put all of the curry powder ingredients into a spice grinder and process them to a fine powder.
Tip: This recipe produces about four tablespoons of curry powder.
Note: You will be using half of the curry powder as a dry rub on the wings. The rest of the powder will be used in the curry sauce that you will brush on the wings as they are grilling.
3. Sprinkle two tablespoons of the curry powder all over the wings and rub the spices into the meat to completely cover every exposed surface.
Tip: Latex gloves are useful in this process—unless you want to be caught “yellow handed.”
4. Put the wings in a sealable gallon plastic bag and marinate the chicken in the refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Tip: Overnight is better.
Note: Press as much air out of the bag as you can before sealing it.
5. Half an hour before grilling, remove the chicken pieces from the bag and let them air dry and come to room temperature.
Note: You want the wings dry enough that you can get good sear marks on the wings.
6. While the wings are drying, prepare your curry sauce.
7. Make a light brown roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour.
Tip: Wait for the butter to stop foaming before adding the flour. The foaming is cause by the water in the butter cooking off. If you add the flour too early, some of it will absorb the moisture and those bits will be more likely to burn as you cook your roux.
Note: A roux is made of equal part of oil and flour, but by weight, not volume. Oil is heavier than flour so the ration is slightly more than 3:4. The consistency of your roux should be closer to wet sand than a thin slurry.
8. When your roux is as dark as you like it, stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking until the tomato paste has darkened, about 2 minutes.
9. Sprinkle the curry powder over the roux and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for one more minute until fragrant.
10. Add the grated apple and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the apple is starting to break down.
11. Slowly stir in the chicken broth, whisking constantly, until it is a smooth sauce.
Tip: You want your curry sauce to be fairly thin, so that it does not become a “gloppy” mess on the wings.
Note: It should be thin enough to brush easily, but it should also be thick enough to stick to the meat.
12. Stir in the soy sauce and reduce the heat.
Tip: Keep the curry sauce warm, nut you do not want to overcook it and turn it into a thick paste.
13. Prepare your grill.
Note: If you are using charcoal, build a bi-level fire in the grill—push all of the coals to one side of your grill. If you are using gas, turn on all of your burners and heat the grill for five minutes—turn one side of the grill to its lowest gas setting when you put on the chicken. This helps the pieces that are farthest from the hot side of the grill to cook completely.
14. Oil your grating well and lay the chicken, pretty side down, on the hot side of the grill.
Tip: Close the grill lid.
Note: Chicken wings have a pretty side, the top of the wing, and a less attractive side, the underside of the wing.
15. Sear the chicken for 10 minutes.
16. Flip the wings and brush them with the curry sauce.
17. Sear the second side for another 10 minutes.
18. Transfer the wings to the cool side of the grill.
Tip: As you are moving the chicken, flip the wings pretty side down and brush them with the curry sauce.
19. Close the grill lid and continue to cook the chicken for another 30-40 minutes.
Tip: Flip the wings every 10 minutes, brushing the tops with the sauce.
Note: Check the temperature as you are flipping the wings. The best way to check is with an instant read thermometer. You want an internal temperature of 160º F in the thickest part of the largest drumette.
20. Redistribute the wings after 20 minutes.
Note: The wings that are closest to the heat will cook more quickly. Move the wings farthest from the heat closer and fill their spaces with the wings that were closes.
21. When the wings are nearly done, sprinkle the pretty sides with the garam masala.
Tip: Garam masala is a fragrant finishing spice blend that should be added near the end of the cooking time. Long exposure to heat drives off the volatile elements in these spices that give Indian dishes their amazing aromas. While some recipes call for adding the garam masala at the beginning of cooking, you should always save some of it to add just before the dish is done—even if the recipe does not explicitly say so.
Note: While most Japanese curry recipes do not call for garam masala, this was a last minute thought. I have been making several Indian dishes lately and it just seemed like a reasonable addition.
22. When the wings are done, transfer the chicken to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
23. Let the chicken rest for five minutes and then serve warm.
Tip: You may leave the wings whole or separate the flats and drumettes for easier eating.