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Video: Out-of-this-world ribs and wings

TODAY recipes
updated 5/17/2010 8:18:03 AM ET 2010-05-17T12:18:03

Recipe: Piri-piri chicken wings

Nando's in Capetown, South Africa, has built traditional African-Portuguese chile-grilled chicken into an empire spanning five continents. They use a two-step process, soaking chicken overnight in their piri-piri marinade, then glazing it with a lemon, herb, and chile sauce as it comes off the grill.

  • For the wings and marinade
  • 1/2 cup South African peri-peri sauce, Brazilian piri-piri sauce, Tabasco, or other hot sauce or 1/4 cup hot sauce plus 3 to 4 fresh piri-piri chiles, cayennes, red serranos, or other hot, fresh red chiles, stemmed and cut in half, and seeded (for hotter wings, leave the seeds in)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 piece (3 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds whole chicken wings (about 12 wings)
  • For the glaze
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons South African or Brazilian piri-piri sauce, Tabasco hot sauce, or other hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Prepare the marinade and wings
Place the cup of hot sauce and the chiles, the garlic, onion, ginger, cilantro, oil, cup of lemon juice, and the salt and pepper in a blender and puree until smooth. Or you can puree the piri-piri chiles, if using, and the garlic, onion, ginger, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a food processor, then work in the hot sauce, if using, and the oil and lemon juice. Transfer the marinade to a large nonreactive bowl or roasting pan.

Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water and blot them dry with paper towels. Cut
the chicken wings in half, cutting off and discarding the tips. Add the wings to the marinade and stir to coat. Let the wings marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 6 hours, or as long as overnight, stirring them every few hours. The longer the wings marinate, the richer the flavor will be.  

Make the glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cilantro and garlic and cook until sizzling and aromatic, about 2 minutes; do not let the garlic brown. Stir in the hot sauce and lemon juice and let the glaze simmer until blended and flavorful, about 2 minutes.

To grill: Grilling the chicken wings using the direct method is truer to the way they do it at Nando’s but requires a little more care than grilling them using the indirect method. Whichever method you use, drain the wings, discarding the marinade, before grilling.

If you are using the direct method, set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to medium. Leave one section of the grill fire-free for a safety zone. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken wings on the hot grate skin side down and grill them until crisp and golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Should any flare-ups occur, move the wings to the safety zone.

If you are using the indirect method, set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the chicken wings skin side up in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and grill the wings until they are crisp and golden brown and cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.   

To test for doneness, make a small cut in the thickest part of one of the wings; there should be no traces of red or pink at the bone. Transfer the grilled chicken wings to a platter and pour the glaze over them. Toss to mix, then serve at once.


Advance preparation: 6 to 24 hours for marinating the wings

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Gaucho-style beef ribs

Visit the iconic Brazilian steak house Fogo de Chão (with branches throughout Brazil and North America), and the first thing you'll see is the namesake campfire with racks of ribs roasting on upright metal stakes around it. That's the traditional way to cook beef ribs gaucho (Brazilian cowboy) style. But excellent Brazilian beef ribs can be made on a rotisserie, on a charcoal grill using the indirect method, and yes, even on a gas grill. Whatever method you use, you'll get ribs with a sizzling salty crust on the outside and tender succulent meat inside — a Brazilian's idea of nirvana, and mine, too.

  • 2 racks (7 bones each) beef long ribs (each 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), or 1 large rack (6 to 8 pounds)
  • Coarse (and I mean really coarse) sea salt
  • Cracked black peppercorns (optional; Brazilians don't use it, but I like the way it rounds out the flavor)

Allow yourself a couple of hours to cook the ribs.

1) Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs: Turn a rack of ribs meat side down. Insert a sharp implement, such as the tip of a meat thermometer, under the membrane (the best place to start is on one of the middle bones). Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or needle-nose pliers to gain a secure grip, pull off the membrane. Repeat with the remaining rack of ribs, if using.

2) Right before grilling, very generously season the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper, if desired.

3) To grill with indirect heat: Set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium. When ready to cook, if you are using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. If you are using a gas grill and want a smoke flavor, add the wood chips to the smoker box or place them in a smoker pouch under the grate. Place the racks of ribs, meaty side up, in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat and cover the grill.

4) Cook the ribs until they are well browned, tender, and cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 hours for smaller racks, 2 to 2 1/2 hours for a large one. When the ribs are done, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about 1/2 inch. If you like, during the last half hour, baste the ribs with any fat in the drip pan. If you are using a charcoal grill, you will need to replenish the coals after 1 hour.

5) Transfer the grilled ribs to a cutting board. Cut the ribs into 1 or 2-bone sections and serve at once.


Note: I've made the wood chips optional. If you want a light smoke flavor, use unsoaked chips. For a more intense smoke flavor, soak the wood chips for 1 hour in water to cover, then drain them.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings


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