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Chicken wings — Buffalo, Baked, or Otherwise
June 22, 2017, 1:49 pm

There are different ways to prepare chicken wings: you can go for crispy and tender, or douse in homemade hot sauce butter or any of your favorite spices.

It is true that deep-frying chicken wings gives them the crispiest, most succulent coat, but there is also something about roasting them in the oven: The hot sauce marinade bakes right into the meat, infusing it completely.

To better understand, read on to find out how you can prepare chicken wings the way you like them.

Prep your wings: As always, the better quality meat you get, the better the dinner is going to taste. Buy whole chicken wings and break them down into three parts yourself; not only will the meat be less expensive, but the butchering is quick work and you will have the added bonus of getting some wing tips in the mix.

A whole chicken wing has three parts: the drumette (with a large end like a club), the wingette (flat, with two bones), and the tip (pointy, wing-like, and too-often discarded). To break a wing down into these parts, slip your knife into one of the two joints, rocking it side to side until the blade slides through and separates the parts. You will not have to cut through bone, only the cartilage. Continue until all your drummettes, wingettes, and tips are free agents.

Play your crispy cards: A chicken wing should not be battered, as it gets all of its delicate crispness from dried, fried skin. So do not dredge, flour or dip. Instead, towel off as much moisture as you can using paper towels, and then:

  • Before roasting and even fridge-drying, toss your wings in a little salt and a bit of baking powder, which will both up the pH, and create bubbles on the surface of the chicken. For every ¼ kilogram of wings, toss with one scant teaspoon of baking powder before setting out to dry.
  • If you have the foresightlet your wings dry out, uncovered, in the fridge overnight, skin-side up like you would a whole chicken before roasting. The less moisture in the skin, the cracklier it is going to become in the oven. If you are making wings tonight, do not worry about setting them out to dry — just let them come to room temperature, towel them off thoroughly, and toss with baking powder and salt before roasting.

Prep your sauce or rub: Decide at the outset: Are you making dry-rub wings (coated in spices) or saucy ones?

Saucy-rub wings: If you opt for saucy ones, then to make your own, blend fresh raw ingredients until smooth. Pour the slurry in a saucepan and melt enough butter into it to make it rich and creamy (for every one cup of sauce, use a half stick of butter). How spicy, how savory, or how sweet it ends up being, depends on what you pile in that blender.

Here is what to add to your wing sauce based on how you like your wings:

  • For heat: Warm-colored hot peppers (cherry peppers, cayenne peppers, red jalapenos, habanero peppers); dried chilies, reconstituted in warm water
  • For freshness: Citrus (grapefruit, lemon or lime) juice or zest
  • For heft: Red or yellow bell peppers; tomatoes; carrots
  • For richness: Garlic; shallots; onion
  • For sweetness: Honey; molasses; brown sugar
  • For pizzaz: Ginger; lemongrass; fresh turmeric; smoked paprika

Whiz your concoction in the blender with enough vinegar to make it smooth.

Dry-rub wings: For dry rub wings, you will want to toss together a flurry of ground spices and herbs, which you will actually toss the wings in before cooking them. For the most flavor, start with whole spices, toast them up in a dry skillet, and then grind them in a mortar and pestle before tossing with the wings.

Some ideas for dry-rub ingredients include: cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic granules, onion powder, ginger powder, black pepper, brown sugar, celery salt, dry mustard, cumin, coriander and anything savory.

Bake: Opt for baking rather than deep frying as cooking top-down on a baking sheet in their own fat, gives you a delicious result. The wings will turn crisp if you stick to the above procedure.

Heat the oven to about 232 degrees Celsius. Space the baking-powdered, salted wings (that have also been coated in spices, if you have opted for dry-rub) out on one or two baking sheets skin side up, slip them in when the oven is hot, and start a timer. The first side will take longer to brown—15 to 25 minutes- and then, once flipped, the other side will go quickly.

Once done, unstick the wings from the pan and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes before tossing with the warm, buttery sauce, or serve them up with the sauce in a bowl on the side.


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