Even Fast-Food Giants Know: It's Not Hard to Make an Awesome Wing
|Photo by Flickr user sokolokophoto|
I hate chain restaurants, and they seem to be multiplying. Every time I turn around, there's another squatting smugly across the parking lot from Best Buy or snuggled into the corner of a mall, waiting for trans-fat-hungry customers to order some sort of deep-fried, oversauced platter of bulk-purchased protein, served up by a toothy waitron wearing a metric ton of flair.
Despite the best efforts of these culinary chop shops, there's one decent dish many of them do right, despite an onslaught of clumsy sauces, poor spice combinations, and abusive deep fryers. I'm talking about
Individual servings of moist white meat, balanced by the perfect amount of skin, tender, moist, and flavorful. They're not just bar food, and they're not just appetizers (although I estimate a 26 percent to 48 percent improvement in mood at any party that serves them as an app). They'll work at any meal, taste great hot or cold, and are easy to transport to chicken-wing-eating locations outside the home.
So here's two ways to cook wings that elevate them beyond being dropped in a fry-o-lator and served with limp celery sticks and blue cheese. Awesome.
Muddy's Glazed Chicken Wings
First up is a simple recipe from my grandmother, Muddy. (Yes, "Muddy," and no, I don't know how she got the name.) It's for a dish of wings whose sticky, flavorful glaze and juicy, fall-off-the-bone meat prompt uncontrollable wing ingestion that ends with blurred vision and a happy delirium.
Rinse and pat dry two large trays of chicken wings, then arrange them in nine-by-12-inch baking pans. Interlock the third joint of the wings (which you should never cut off) so that you use your space efficiently and expose the meaty surfaces to the sauce and heat, allowing for hot glazing action.
In a mixing bowl, combine a can of dethawed orange juice concentrate, a cup of dark brown sugar, a lot of chopped garlic, a dash of Worcestershire, the juice of half a lemon, and a bit of salt and pepper. Pour it over the wings and bake covered at 350.
After 40 minutes, remove the foil and baste every 15 minutes for about another hour. Exercise caution when basting: Opening the oven door releases a smell that may attract unwanted neighbors. Pour or skim off excess fat as you go, keeping the liquid less than a half-inch.
When they're sufficiently dark and gooey, let them cool in the pan for a few minutes. Your biggest problem now becomes deciding whether to eat them hot or cold the next day; they rule both ways.
|Photo by Flickr user disneymike|
Spicy Non-Buffalo Wings
Next up is a recipe for spicy, non-Buffalo wings. I love spicy foods but happen to think that Buffalo wings usually suck. So this recipe will give you a wing that stays moist, brings the heat, and isn't covered in that generic spicy red sauce.
Rinse and pat dry two dozen chicken wings. In a bowl, combine two teaspoons of black pepper, three teaspoons of freshly grated ginger, two tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of sugar, three tablespoons of fresh chopped garlic, four tablespoons of vegetable oil, and four tablespoons of fresh lime juice. Add as many teaspoons of cayenne as your cajones will allow. Put the marinade and wings into a zip-lock bag, coat evenly, seal, and refrigerate for three hours.
Spread the wings on a baking tray and bake for 25 minutes at 400. Flip them over, then continue baking them until shiny and golden brown. Serve as is or with hot sauce.
You can use these recipes as written or tweak the hell out of them to suit your mood. As long as you use a little thought and imagination, wings will take pretty much whatever you throw at them and give back greatness. And I've done my community service this month by keeping you out of those crappy restaurants. So we both win.
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and has hands stained red from hot sauce.