Pickle Brined Pastrami Chicken Wings
Smokey flavors with the bold crust of pastrami, right before you bite into that juicy zest of chicken. These are ultimate chicken wings.
It all started with a jar of pickle brine.
I can’t let that delicious brine go to waste! My family can only go through so many pickles. Sometimes the demand for the brine drives me to consume the last third of the jar. The puckering side-effects are SO worth it.
You might have noticed that I absolutely love cooking with pastrami flavors. It’s a recipe that I have yet to perfect – the best Pastrami rub. As IF that’s ever possible! It’s just as difficult as making the perfect fried chicken, or the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
The Pickle Brine
Pickle juice tenderizes meat like crazy. The acidic flavors penetrate into the fibers, dying it yellow and softening the chicken just slightly. Combine chicken wings with the brine and you have the most juicy, flavorful wings even before you season them.
One day I’ll have to write about pickle brined fried chicken, still one of my favorite ways to use that juice.
The Pastrami Rub
Pairing the flavors of pastrami to chicken wasn’t as difficult as I thought. I have about 5 blends of pastrami rub that I use for various cooks. I needed the right mix that wasn’t too floral with coriander or juniper berries, and had a little sweetness to round out that pickle brine.
Ironically the best pastrami rub to use was from my Pastrami Spiced Porterhouse Recipe.
The challenge with making Pastrami Chicken Wings is the dark color of the crust, and the ruby meat hidden inside. I didn’t want to cure the wings for that salty, pink color. Traditionally, pastrami is also smoked for quite awhile so it develops that dark crust on the outside.
Popping open my spice cabinet, avoiding falling items, I saw that bag of charcoal. PERFECT. A single teaspoon with a few pinches of bright red paprika and the new pastrami blend was ready to go.
Making the Pastrami Wings
Brine those wings. This was the easy part, just toss them in enough pickle juice to cover and stir them every so often. Let them hang out at least overnight.
Dry-brine those wings. Take the wings out of that juice and pat them dry. Toss them in a bag with the rub, making sure they are full coated. I like to put them on a wire rack in the fridge for a few hours to dry out the surface more, which will create a super crispy crust when you smoke them.
Smoke them. The hardest part, you must sit around and wait for the 3rd time now! You’re almost there. Just let these dark wings bath in that smoke at 225F for almost 2 hours until they are safe to eat (165F) and you’re ready to go!