Spring has truly arrived and summer is not far behind. “How do I know this,” you ask. Simple, I have finally moved my grills out from the protection of the garage and placed them up on the deck where I do all my spring, summer, and early fall grilling. Once the cold and snow sets in I move the grills to the front of the garage to give myself some protection during cold weather grilling. Yes, I am one of those. I grill out all year round, and have even made it a tradition of grilling our turkey for Thanksgiving. I’ve also been known to grill out in the middle of a snow storm if the craving for a grilled burger strikes. But these are stories for another time.

Yesterday, I was drinking a Black Cherry soda and I got to thinking about how it would taste as a base for a glaze on grilled chicken wings. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Many veterans of BBQ competitions use coke in their BBQ sauces and I have also made and tasted outstanding BBQ sauces with root beer and Dr. Pepper in them, so why not black cherry soda. Most sodas have a nice play of sweet and tart, which makes them perfect for BBQ sauce, which also usually plays upon that same juxtaposition. Add in a little heat and you have the makings for a great glaze that can compliment chicken and pork and cut through the richness of many of the fattier cuts of meat. While I really liked this glaze, I found that most of the black cherry flavor was lost through the cooking process and couldn’t stand up to the more aggressive flavors in the glaze. That’s not to say that it wasn’t there, but it just wasn’t as forward as I had hoped. Try the glaze this way first then experiment, replacing the Black Cherry soda with Coke, Dr. Pepper, root beer, or ginger beer. Also try this glaze with one of the numerous lemon-lime sodas out there and adding more lemon juice to the recipe to give the chicken a nice citrus zing. Any way you try it, I think you will be happy with the results.

One word about grills: I own both a gas grill and a charcoal grill. I usually prefer the charcoal grill, but I like the convenience of the gas grill for quick meals. For this recipe I prefer the gas grill as I am better able to control the heat. A charcoal grill will work just fine, but keep a close eye on the wings so that they don’t burn.

3 cups Black Cherry Soda
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp. Ground Chipotle Pepper (more if you like it hot)
2 tsp. Cider Vinegar
1/4 Lemon, juiced.
25-30 Chicken Wings

Combine all the ingredients, except the chicken, salt, and pepper in a non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and reduce until you have 1 1/2c. of glaze. Cool it down. This can be made a day or two ahead if needed.

Preheat the grill or get a good base of coals going. Season the chicken wings liberally with salt and pepper and grill over medium high heat until 1/2 way done, about 7 minutes. Turn regularly so as to not burn the skin. Move the wings to a cooler section of the grill and lightly brush the glaze onto one side of the wings. Cover the grill and allow to cook for about 3 minutes. Flip the wings and repeat the process. Continue this process until the wings are cooked through. Watch the heat! With all that sugar in the glaze the wings will want to burn. By the time the wings are done you should have applied the glaze at least 3-4 times on each side. This gradual building up of the glaze will leave you with beautifully lacquered wings that look as good as they taste. Remove them to a platter and serve with plenty of napkins and wet-wipes.

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