Feast of Fireworks

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

When it comes to marking our nation’s Independence Day, the more flash and sizzle the better — from the flame of the grill, to the flare of fireworks, we love these sure-fire ways to get us all fired up in the heat of July. If you want to heat your grill up even more, throw on a batch of my firecracker chicken. A cool overnight soak in buttermilk helps prepare your poultry for the incendiary sauce that explodes with flavor and adds a little excitement to your usual grilled fare.
Sriracha, a southeast Asian chili sauce, is what gives these wings and legs their kick. In the best of our melting-pot American culture, we’ve embraced this bold condiment, and found it a home in American cuisine. As sign of its assimilation, I’ve even seen it as a new flavor of potato chip. If it seems a little too fiery, never fear: it’s tempered on the grill and this fiery red glaze will meld nicely with a creamy blue cheese dip. So fire up your grill and get ready for the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ of your firecracker chicken becoming a finger-licking part of your July 4th feast.

Grilled Firecracker Chicken
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 white onion, sliced
2 pounds chicken drumsticks and wings
2-4 tablespoons Sriracha sauce, to taste
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup mirin (rice wine)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

To make the marinade, whisk together the buttermilk, brown sugar, salt, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper until well combined. Add the onion and chicken, turning to coat all pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours.
Prepare coals or preheat a grill to medium. Meanwhile, combine the Sriracha, brown sugar, salt, garlic, tomato paste, mirin and soy sauce in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer over low heat. Allow to thicken, about 8 minutes, then off the heat stir in the lime juice.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and discard the marinade. Lightly oil the grill, then place the chicken over medium-hot coals and brush with glaze. Cook for two minutes, then flip and brush with glaze. Continue to flip and glaze every 2-4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean platter and sprinkle with chopped cilantro before serving.