I have a confession to make. Its a deep, dark, secret.
Ready? Here goes *draws breath*.
I grew up vegetarian.
Ok, that’s not the confession, this is…I grew up vegetarian, but ate chicken wings…a lot of chicken wings. Honestly, aren’t wings in a food group of their own? They are obviously not a vegetable, but we don’t treat them as we do other meats. We have somehow elevated their status. I’m pretty sure that nothing compares to the almighty chicken wing; crispy, meaty, fried to perfection, covered in more sauces than one can count, and yet, always awesome.
There is a catch to this goodness though. Somehow, we have taken one, small, insignificant piece of chicken and (according to google) turned it into a calorie packing machine. 100 calories per wing, for ONE wing, and who eats ONE wing?? But the alternatives are not good. Boiled wings, NO THANKS! Grilled? Eh…ok, but not close to achieving wing perfection. I’ve searched high and low for the perfect at home wing recipe. I purchased a fryer. I’ve been up to my arms in potholders, dodging hot oil explosions, for what? Wings only slightly better than the ones you shake out of a freezer bag and reheat. Nowhere could I find a recipe that helped me to achieve that perfectly crispy exterior, without drying the inside to some kind of inedible sinewy jerky (ok, maybe they weren’t that bad). I finally found the solution after combining a few methods that I found online
Basically, you par-boil the wings for about five minutes, yep, that’s right. You throw them in a pot of salted water and BOIL them. I know, it seems sacrilegious, but trust me here. Then, you dry the wings off a bit, and throw them in a bag with baking powder, yep, baking powder. Not following me? According to the Cooks Illustrated recipe, the baking powder helps break down the poly-peptide bonds in the skin, which allows the wings to achieve that crispy perfection we all crave. And no, you absolutely cannot taste the baking powder. Then, throw them in the oven for about a half hour, turning them once, and you will have perfectly crispy, juicy wings that your friends will swear were expertly fried.
Why Even Fry? Chicken Wings
- 4 lbs chicken wings (wings and drums)
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Begin by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few teaspoons of salt. You may have to work in batches for this, but drop the wings in and boil for 5 minutes. Do not boil for longer or you will have overcooked chicken. While wings are boiling, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and add a cooling rack to the top – I prefer to use a porcelain coated grilling rack. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Drain wings and blot dry with paper towels (be careful, they will be hot). Add wings to a large bowl, or plastic bag, add baking powder, spices and salt. Toss wings in the bowl, or shake the bag until the wings are evenly coated in the baking powder mixture.
Arrange wings, skin side up, on the rack. Bake wings in middle oven rack at 425 for 20 minutes. Flip wings when they are golden and crispy, and roast for an additional 10 – 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer wings to bowl and add your favorite wing sauce (this is mine, a sweet, spicy red chili sauce), toss to coat the wings and enjoy.
I promise these will be the best wings you have ever made.
Trust me, I should know, after all, I’m a former vegetarian. 🙂