Crazy Good Caribbean Baked Wings

I have a food confession.  I'm not a fan of messy food.

You know, like those cheese puffs that leave your fingers orange for days.  Those powdered doughnuts that made you wish you didn't wear black.  And those sloppy joes that are... well, sloppy.  Heck, I've even been known to eat BBQ ribs with a knife and fork.

And the worst culprit of all? Chicken wings. In which the sauce inevitable gets all over your napkin, water glass, and sleeves. Despite the three tiny towelettes that you used after wing two. Which now, are not only adding to the pile of sauced up napkins and gnawed away bones. But also prompting the waiter to rush over with a plastic bib, that he puts around your neck just in the nick of time to catch that big glop of sauce running down your chin. Someone, please get that man a raise.

So, in keeping things clean, this week I decided to make some wings that are just as full of flavor, healthier than the fried version, and you guessed it... not quite so saucy. And in honor of this kick-off-to summer weekend, I chose some of my favorite flavors that remind me of the islands… and the beach.

The grapefruit, which is an underutilized fruit in cooking, adds a sweet tang to balance out the richness of the coconut milk. The honey and garlic offer a savory sweetness that works perfectly with the heat of the hot sauce and the fresh burst of spiciness from the cinnamon, a common ingredient in Caribbean cooking. All for a finger-licking good feast, without all the mess.

So, what’s the secret to getting crispy wings, minus the fryer? Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and bake your wings on a rack. This allows the air to circulate below and crisp them up on all sides.

Crazy Good Caribbean Baked Wings

1 package chicken wings
1/4 c. canned unsweetened coconut milk
Juice from 1 red grapefruit
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. honey
2 clove garlic, minced
5-6 shakes hot sauce (I like Cholulu)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large plastic bag add all the ingredients. Marinate the wings at least 6 hours, or overnight. Then preheat the oven to 350. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and top with a metal rack. Spray with nonstick spray and place wings on top, skin side up.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, and then turn up the heat to 400 degrees. Continue baking for about 15-20 minutes or until wings are nicely browned (time will vary depending on the thickness of wings).

Serves 4