Who doesn’t like wings? Even without any sauce what soever, they’re the perfect combination of crispy skin and delicious dark meat chicken that make it the perfect snack food – especially on Super Bowl Sunday.
When it comes to wings, I prefer them to be unbreaded. This is partly because I don’t have a deep fryer and partly because I don’t like the greasiness of deep fried wings. When making wings at home, I find that the best way to make them is to season them and then throw them on the grill. Charcoal grill if you have them, for that awesome smokey flavor, and a propane grill if you want to be fast. If you have any wood chips, you can always put them on the grill to infuse a little bit of that smoky flavor. After grilling them, I brush or toss with sauce and then broil in the over to get that extra crispy texture when the sugars in the sauce caramelize.
Is your mouth watering yet? If not, here we go!
Not much to say except this is a bowl of naked wings, ready to shine for Super Bowl Sunday (or any day really).
Preparing the Chicken Wings
There are two schools of thought when working with wings. The first is to break down the chicken wing into it’s three constituent parts: the “drumstick,” or the drumette, the “wing,” the one with two bones, and the mostly useless wing tip. I usually break it down and save the wing tip to use in making stock later (I freeze them in a bag until the next time I get a chicken). The second is to keep the wing whole, it really doesn’t matter what you do. If you do break it down, make sure you get a nice sharp knife so you can cut through the cartilage and bone connecting the three pieces.
You’re mostly cutting through cartilegdge but if you do miss and hit bone, hopefully your knife can make it through.
I keep the seasoning on the wings nice and simple because the sauce will take care of adding most of the flavor. I sprinkle with kosher salt and ground pepper. If you do use a mix or rub, avoid using any mixes with a ton of salt in it because you’ll have salt in the sauce. You can always dip it in sauce if it needs more flavor but you can’t remove excess salt.
All ready to go!
As I mentioned in the open, I like to grill my wings because it gives it that extra smoky flavor that you can’t get in your oven. The wings are organized in a circle because that center area is an especially hot zone on my grill, a wing there will burn, rather than cook evenly. That hickory wood chunk, which is dark and ashy, provides a lot of nice sweet smelling smoke. The wings will cook maybe 7-8 minutes on each side, 2-3 minutes at a time to avoid burning, so you won’t get a ton of smoke… but enough to get the flavor in there and a step up from the oven. I use chunks because they burn slower in the smoker, it won’t matter much here (I didn’t soak it either, I figure the burn time wasn’t long enough).
Once the wings are done, I transfer them to a pan so I can sauce and then broil the wings. You can put the sauce in a large bowl and toss (the faster way) or you can brush it on with a brush. Either way is fine, I find that the bowl method is faster but you need a less viscous sauce to work with so the sauce can coat the wings.
At this point, the wings are “done” in the sense that you could eat them immediately. The next step is entirely option, depends on how caramelized you’d like the wings.
Now comes the crisping part. Put the tray in the top or second to top rack and wait about a minute or less, then check the wings. The sugars in your sauce should caramelize, giving you a nice rich brown color that will taste great. Don’t leave the oven at any time because the wings can burn very easily. Once one side is down, flip and wait.
The wing sauce recipe I used was very very basic, I took some barbecue sauce I had in the fridge and combined it with some Chipotle Tabasco sauce. The fun of chicken wing sauce recipes is that you can taste it before you put it on the wings, so you can tailor it to whatever your tastes are. The only key thing to remember is that with many hot sauces, you should cut it a little with melted butter so that it can coat and stick to the chicken better. Whenever making sauces, I pretty much guess at ingredients and taste the sauce until it fits the flavors I want.
Some Great Wing Sauces
Buffalo Style Hot Wing Sauce: Get your favorite hot sauce to act as your base and mix it equal parts sauce and butter for mild wings. Add hot sauce to that mixture until it reaches the desired spiciness. If you want to infuse some garlic flavor, add in garlic powder to make garlic wings.
Soy Honey Ginger Sauce: If you want to go the Asian route and get a sweet and spicy flavor, you’ll need to do a little more work. This recipe for Korean Fried Chicken Wings  contains a recipe for a soy ginger glaze that sounds absolutely delicious. The ingredients are straightforward – water, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, honey/corn syrup, and chili peppers. I won’t go into the amounts and preparation style, since The Ravenous Couple already does, but it looks fantastic!
Enjoy and share any tips and recipes you may have!