Chicken wings tossed in mixing bowl.
While chicken wings form the backbone of Sunday afternoon barroom cuisine during the football months, the debate around their proper preparation can often be as divisive as the game on the TV. Depending on the preference of the kitchen management or the available equipment (or desired mess) at home, wings can be cooked up using two main methods, and any good wing eater has a preference for a favorite above the other — before we even get to seasonings and sauce. Here, we offer outlines for baked and fried wings, then we’ll cover a spectrum of sauce ideas (like those diagrams at the wing joint!).
Baked Chicken Wings
For the easiest, healthiest chicken wing preparation, nothing works better than the Rosso & Flynn-endorsed method of high-temperature baking. With a few pinches of salt, pepper, and oil, you’re all set for delicious wings maintain their moisture owing to the limited oven time required for the cook.
This preparation allows for tons of creativity; while salt and pepper are a must for a basic seasoning, the possibilities are nearly endless for dry seasoning prior to baking. And, of course, we’ll have an opportunity to toss these in a sauce of choice once they’re cooked to temperature.
Recipe calls for 2lbs of chicken wings. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- 2 lbs pasture-raised whole chicken wings
- Kosher salt, pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil (or neutral cooking oil)
Optional dry seasonings:
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- cayenne pepper
- white pepper
- chili powder
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Remove chicken wings from packaging and pat very dry using paper towel (meat will not brown if moisture is present).
In large mixing bowl, add chicken wings with salt and dry seasonings. Thoroughly rub oil and seasoning into nooks and crannies. Depending on the heating rate of your oven, the salt may work its magic by the time the oven reaches temperature. Whatever the case, allow the seasonings to set for at least 15 minutes before placing in oven.
Spread seasoned wings on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove wings from oven and allow to cool briefly. Add baked wings to clean mixing bowl, add sauce of choice, and toss until coated.
Deep Fried Chicken Wings
The dry seasoning free-for-all applies as much to fried wings as to baked, so we’ll skip the list of possibilities. However, for fried wings you’ll also need a good dose of cornstarch for a light dredging (about 2 cups for 2 lbs of wings). Additionally, you’ll need a frying setup: an oil thermometer, a heavy bottomed stovetop vessel (cast iron or ceramic Dutch oven), as well as a light frying oil (peanut works great).
Remove wings from packaging and pat very dry with paper towel. In large mixing bowl, combine chicken wings and kosher salt. Allow wings to rest (allowing salt to penetrate meat).
In separate bowl, combine cornstarch with plenty of dry seasoning (cornstarch should be slightly colored according to spices). A few wings at a time, add chicken to dredge, coat wings liberally coat wings and place on a separate plate.
Add oil to fry-safe vessel and heat to 350 degrees. Be sure to add oil thermometer, as oil temperature will fluctuate significantly when meat is added.
Using tongs or mesh skimmer, safely add a load of about 8 wings to hot oil (whatever number of wings, pay attention to oil temperature). Cook wings for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown, and safely transfer to wire rack (wire allows wings to dry across the whole surface area, while placing on a paper towel can lead to soggy bottoms).
Repeat with remaining wings.
Once cooled slightly, toss with preferred sauce and serve.
Let’s Talk Sauce
Ok, so we’ve got chicken wings ready to eat… almost. Now we enter the highly tense period of deciding on a sauce profile. From the who-needs-taste-buds spice-loving crowd to the sweet honey teriyaki folks, there are dozens of common sauces to add to your finished wings. Let’s cover a few.
For the most basic buffalo sauce, you’ll just need equal parts butter and vinegar-cayenne hot sauce (also known as just “hot sauce” or “Louisiana hot sauce”). Common hot sauce brands include Crystal, Frank’s, Tabasco, and many other familiar, ultra-cheap restaurant table regulars.
Simply place a sauce pot on low heat, add butter and hot sauce, and allow a few minutes for the soft heat to combine the two elements. For a deeper flavor, add in a pinch of garlic and onion powder, and a dash of Worcestershire.
For a simple approach to umami goodness, check out this basic teriyaki sauce from Serious Eats. 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup Mirin, and a half-cup each of dark brown sugar and sake. Cook down to a slightly thick paste, and wow the Asian-loving taste buds at the party. (For an extra treat, toast some sesame seeds for a final garnish, along with fresh cilantro.
To round out our “foundations of American wing eating” suite of sauces, we have honey barbecue. And while you may wait until the last second and end up mixing your favorite pre-made barbecue sauce with honey, it’s worth taking a look behind at the curtain at the elements of a basic barbecue sauce, in case you feel like shaking things up next year. (The fresh version always tastes much better.)
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Add all ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Add 1 cup honey and cook down until thick.
Finally, an in-house sauce treat…
Finally, you have to check out our in-house whiskey wing sauce, which we prefer with Austin’s own Nine Banded Whiskey. It’s deep, sweet, earthy and boozy — and it’s going to knock the boring out of this year’s party.
Check out the On-the-Fly Whiskey Wing Sauce Recipe here.