Tailgating Recipe: Soul Rub Grilled Chicken Wings

Soul grilled chicken wings with chunky blue cheese dipping sauce, styled by Julie Rothman.
Soul grilled chicken wings with chunky blue cheese dipping sauce, styled by Julie Rothman. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun)

Adam Eagan, managing partner at the Empire Brewing Co. in Syracuse, N.Y., knows a thing or two about good food and beer. It is, after all, what he does for a living.

At least four or five times during the football season he packs up his car and makes the 51/2-hour trek from upstate New York to Baltimore, where he lived for 28 years, to join some of his buddies for a "killer" tailgate in Lot H1 at M&T Bank Stadium.


He was introduced to this group of foodie fans some years ago by his best friend from high school, Mark Maloney, and was impressed with what they were putting together for food and beverage at their tailgate. This was not your run-of-the-mill burgers-and-beer group. So, as he says, "he threw his hat into the ring" and started to participate in their pregame cooking extravaganza.

In addition to the many locally sourced food items the H1 group serves, Eagan has been know to contribute items including elk meat and Kobe beef, which he brings with him from upstate New York.

He says his elk sliders with caramelized onions are always a hit. Also popular are his "soul rub" grilled chicken wings. He serves the wings with a blue cheese dipping sauce and a side of lemon Parmesan coleslaw. While perhaps not the most exotic menu items at the tailgate, they are easy to a make and always a crowd-pleaser.

'Soul rub' grilled chicken wings

36 chicken wings, rinsed and dried well

For Soul Barbecue Rub:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup paprika

1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients together in a bowl and mix together with a fork. Be sure to break up brown sugar thoroughly.


Place wings in a large resealable plastic bag. Sprinkle in 2 to 3 tablespoons (or more if desired) of the rub to coat wings lightly. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Seal the bag, then work it with your hands to coat wings evenly.

Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To grill: Clean and oil your grill so that wings do not stick. Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Place wings on grill, allowing a 1-inch space between wings. Grill wings on all sides until lightly charred, maybe two to four minutes on each side, depending on how hot the grill is. Because the rub has a brown-sugar base, the charring will happen rather quickly. Take care not to burn. Transfer wings to top rack of your grill and close the lid to finish the cooking, about four to six minutes. If your grill does not have an upper rack, move wings away from direct flame. If using a gas grill, turn one of the burners off and place the wings above that burner. Close the lid and cook the wings gently on low heat, turning frequently until cooked through.

Maytag blue cheese dipping sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon buttermilk (optional)

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 large glove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon celery seed

4 ounces blue cheese (more if you like it chunky)

1 scallion, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine everything, except the cheese, in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Gently fold in crumbled cheese, taking care not to break chunks too much, as this can make the sauce a bit thick.