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Carolina-Style Chicken Wings: Perfect for the Sweet Sixteen

wings-carolina styleMy family is from North Carolina and as a result of my Carolina roots, starting in about August, I start to get antsy for college basketball season to start again. But by the time the tourney rolls around, I am in full-blown basketball mania mode, especially if my team is still alive, which they are. I like to make dishes that reflect my roots when I watch basketball, because the food I make can actually affect the outcome of the games. So it needs to be good and it needs to taste like North Carolina. These tasty North Carolina-style chicken wings fit the bill.

They’re North Carolina style because they are marinated in a Carolina-style vinegar sauce. It’s simple to make, it really doesn’t take more than five minutes for the sauce and two minutes to get the wings ready. You marinate overnight and then they only take ten minutes to cook. That’s how easy they are. And they’re delicious–vinegary and spicy with a little bit of sweetness. They’re the perfect thing to make while you watch the Sweet Sixteen, especially if you’re a Tar Heel fan.

North Carolina-Style Chicken Wings

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika plus more to taste
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon salt (more, if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 lbs. chicken wings, with wingtips removed and cut into wings and drumettes

In a jar, combine everything but the chicken wings and mix well. If you are able to do this a few days in advance, that will allow the flavors to meld better, but it’s not a huge deal.

The night before (ideally) or three hours before you plan to cook (fine), lay out the wings in a flat baking dish just barely big enough to hold them all. Dump in the liquid mixture and turn the chicken over in it a few times with your hands so that all the pieces are coated.

When you are ready to cook, sprinkle paprika on one side of the wings, then cook them 4-5 minutes on each side either on the grill over high heat or in the broiler on high.

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