What's for dinner: Margarita Chicken Lollipops

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Margarita Chicken Lollipops

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On the hook for a tasty appetizer for a picnic or neighborhood get-together? Or maybe you just want to impress the kids. Think small, as in these spicy, bite-sized chicken lollipops.

All you need is a sharp paring knife, a hot grill and the nerve to redefine the beloved chicken wing. The presentation is fun, and the wing sauce, made with tequila and orange liqueur, is a nice change from traditional hot sauce. “Sooo good!” exclaimed my daughter Catherine, who’‍s famously picky.

If you want to get super fancy, or just keep your guests from getting sauce on their fingers, wrap the bare end of the wing in a bit of aluminum foil. We omitted the cheese but didn’‍t miss it.

For chicken

1 fresh juicy jumbo lime

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons dried cilantro or 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 pounds jumbo chicken wings

For Margarita Wing Sauce

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup prepared mustard

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 ounce tequila

1 ounce orange liqueur

1 green onion, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons butter, melted

For garnish

1/4 cup crushed salted cashews

1/2 cup queso fresco (Mexican cheese), crumbled

Zest lime and place zest in bowl. Add black pepper, salt, cilantro, coriander, cumin, cayenne and oil to bowl and mix. It should be slushy.

Cut lime in half and squeeze juice into a separate small bowl. Set aside for use in the wing sauce.

Using a sharp paring knife, slice around knuckle of each drummette to loosen skin and meat from bone. Scrape and push meat down the length of the bone, forming a ball of chicken at the end of the drummette. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Place chicken lollipops in a large bowl and toss with lime zest mixture. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Prepare Margarita Wing Sauce: Whisk together honey, mustard, reserved lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, green onion, minced jalapeno and cilantro in a bowl. Set aside.

Fire up grill to 450 to 500 degrees. Prepare grill for indirect grilling.

Grill chicken lollipops for 5 to 6 minutes, turning frequently to get them a little charred. Move wings to indirect part of grill, close lid and allow wings to cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until fully cooked, golden brown and a little crispy. 

Transfer grilled lollipops to a bowl and toss with reserved Margarita Wing Sauce and melted butter. Sprinkle with crushed cashews and crumbled cheese, toss and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

 -- “Gastro Grilling: Fired-Up Recipes to Grill Great Everyday Meals” by Ted Reader (Pintail, March 2014, $25)

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