I will never forget when I first heard of the chicken wing craze; I thought people were truly crazy, but found out that I was just as crazy for them!
I’m not hot on hot wings, but I have found that you can make any variety of wings easily and they are on the list of top SuperBowl and sport-watching foods. They are always big hits on buffets. I will tell you how you can make them and suggest kinds, but (ahem), I expect you to take the ball and run with it!
[This is a small sample; I am not ready for Sunday yet!]
The first few times I made wings, I followed a recipe with was delicious, but very time consuming. It entailed cooking the wings in a slow-cooker for hours, when reducing,(cooking down), the liquid, them frying the wings until crispy. The part which I messed-up on more than once was by over-cooking the wings in the cooker; I ended up with a tasty mess.
Then I decided to branch out with flavors and styles and fry the wings, then cook them in a glaze. They were also good and were a hit, but it was a messy way and a pain to clean up; it wasn’t worth it for me,(although the fellas here liked them… of course, they did none of the work.).
So I will skip you to the easy way to great chicken wings and one that will allow you to make them in large numbers more quickly and to make several types at a time, if you’d like. My secret weapon?
The hardest part about making wings is the fact that the bones make it difficult to cook them all the way through.(I became ill at a famous buffet restaurant from undercooked chicken wings). The next thing you need to make successful wings is to make them crispy; you can do it.
Depending on the amount of time you are willing to put in to preparing the wings, you can make a couple or many types and flavors, more on your own, or some straight out of bottles and jars.
For all of them, you are going to line a baking sheet in foil for easy clean-up and place dipped wings,(with or without the wing-tips cut off; I take them off and use them in broth), on the foil,(or parchment paper). I brush them with more of the chosen sauce , cover them and let them cook in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes, occasionally basting them in more sauce .Cut one gently at the main joint and check for color. If it is red, continue cooking.
When they are gray inside with no red-running, remove the covering and baste one last time. Place the wings under the broiler for a few minutes,(watch them closely).
Now, for choosing sauces:
There are many wing sauces, barbeque sauces and marinades waiting on your grocer’s shelf; (I mix 3 parts honey bbq sauce with 1 part hickory; that is my secret for most of my barbeque recipes.) You can even use your favorite non-creamy salad dressings ….or you can make your own, original flavors, specifically to your taste.
One of my men’s favorites is Thai Hot Wings,(which was the first I made on my own ).
½ cup of brown sugar
¼ cup of water
½ cup Asian Sweet Chili Sauce (bottled)
Boil this until thick,(taste and adjust ratio of chili to sugar; do not substitute honey; it removes the “heat” from the chili.)
Use as directed above. Warming: these get hotter as they sit. Be forewarned if you pre-make these!
Basic glaze for wings:
The next way is very versatile. The formula is this:
Reduce, (boil until condensed), chicken broth until very strong
Use chicken bouillon and use twice the amount,(or half or the water), suggested.
Then you can dip or baste the wings with this and sprinkle them with herbs and spices, or add them to the broth.
Sprinkling the herbs and spices on afterward is easiest and is probably necessary even if you add some to the broth beforehand, but adding them to the broth softens dried herbs and spices, and gives more uniform flavor throughout the wings. Depending on the saltiness of your glaze, you may or may not feel the need for more salt on the wings. Taste the broth before dipping or brushing the wings; never eat or taste anything that has been contaminated with raw meat or poultry. Boil down further or make more, (and condense), and add spices or other additions suggested below to make dipping sauces, if you’d like.
Suggestions for additions are:
Italian spice ( or parsley, basil , marjoram)
Mexican spice combo( or cilantro, cayenne, cumin)
Mixed Vegetable flakes
Tomato &/or Sweet Pepper flakes with garlic &/or chives
Lemon–Pepper or Lemon-Thyme (squeeze lemon juice on the wings after the first glazing and sprinkle on pepper, or use dried lemon peel)
Oregano, onion powder and paprika
Sage, marjoram, onion powder , parsley
Sesame seed (add a couple of drops of sesame oil to broth for stronger flavor)
You get the idea, right? I hope you get more ideas.
You can add or glaze at the end with honey (in addition to many of the above), or with maple syrup alone.
If you want sweet but can’t use honey, you can use corn or cane syrup, or brown sugar.
For sweet wings without sugar, use a fruit-only spread,(found in the jelly aisle).
If you are feeling really adventuresome, you can add ginger or allspice and make wonderful wings.
You can freeze the wings after they cool. As always, wrap tightly and remove as much air as humanly possible,(if you don’t have a vacuum machine, use a good, sturdy zipper-close bag and squeeze.) You can microwave them to thaw and they will be good to eat heated that way , but you can re-crisp them under the broiler for a couple of minutes after they are thawed and bring them back to perfect.
So feel free to try several kinds and make them before your party, or to keep on hand for a filling fast snack or an addition when there are unexpected guest, or long-staying ones, ever-hungry teens, or kids’ sleep-overs..
I have a special guest-blogger coming next time. I hope you join me in welcoming him.