Everyone knows that the best accompaniment to frosty pints of beer are the ubiquitous chicken wing; you know, those tiny appendages which – despite failing at their given purpose to make chickens actually FLY – have instead found a whole new calling as yummy appetizers which, when all dolled up with zesty flavours, satisfy the gastronomic cravings of bar and pub patrons everywhere. We’re on the same page here, right?
From what I’ve seen, most foodservice wings are prepared one of two ways: They are either boiled or deep fried until cooked; then are tossed about in either hot sauce, a sticky honey garlic sauce or the now-famous “Sweet Thai Chili” sauce – which after having spent a month in Thailand, I can tell you that this is about as much an authentic Thai Dish as Chop Suey is Chinese… But I digress…
Regardless of how they are cooked, or which flavour they are the bottom line is that I LOVE CHICKEN WINGS! (& Beer!) I do! I love ’em! But what I don’t love is the big ass price tag that comes with them anytime when I order them at pubs, bars or restaurants – Heck at our local, four plates of teeny tiny wings recently ran us over $50, and that was before we added in the cost of the beers! All in all it was an expensive night that put a major dent in my wallet.
So as a public service to all the good readers of this blog I’ve come up with to (a) have incredible chicken wings at home, and (b) to come in at a cost that’s a fraction of what you’d pay for them eating out. So get out your chopping boards and sharpen your knives – we’re heading into the kitchen! Let’s go!
Awesome Chicken Wings:
First off, make sure you always buy your wings in bulk packs because (a) they are usually cheaper per pound, and (b) if you don’t you’ll be pissed off when you run out quickly – trust me, this happens all the time! And if the wings you buy aren’t split already, simply cut them on the joint so you have two pieces, like in the picture below. Oh, and always make sure you cut off the tip, because nobody likes “the tip” – insert groan here – to identify that as a juvenile attempt at humour
*Important! If you buy frozen wings, make sure they are fully thawed before cutting them to avoid all kinds of trouble
When you are done removing the tips and chopping them in two, your wings should look like the ones below, all pretty and even. Once you’ve hit this stage, next just rinse the wings with a bit of cold water to make sure all the bits of bone etc. are gone, and they appear nice and fresh to the eye
It’s time to get out a big pot and fill it with just enough water to hold them all, and make sure that the wings are slightly covered like in the picture below. Add salt (sea salt if you have it) then cover, crank up the heat, and bring it to a boil. After boiling for about 4 – 5 minutes, your wings are pretty much cooked; it’s time to get them out of the hot tub, and into a colander. But first…
DO NOT DUMP THE WATER! Using a slotted spoon, remove the wings but keep the water, and here’s why: Smart chefs know this is now “chicken stock” that should be strained and refrigerated for later use. I’m talking later use like making a nice soup, sauce or maybe even a wicked risotto for tomorrow nights dinner… now we’re talkin’! So remember – It’s not water, it’s valuable stock and to save it! Okay, back to the recipe:
Once out of the water, let your wings strain and dry off a bit in a colander like below. Separate them so they cool quickly; and then after a few minutes put them in a fridge for about an hour or so until they completely cool off
Now comes the fun part – the flavouring! Start by pouring a couple of tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over all the wings, and stir it around until each one is lightly coated. Next, sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper; and then squeeze a fresh lemon all over them, and stir again so all the wings get a touch of that zesty, zingy flavour. Now add your favourite spices; and remember, don’t be scared to go crazy – these are supposed to be “hot” wings, so the spicier the better!
Personally, I use Franks Red Hot powder (although you can use the sauce) and some Chicken Tikka spice I brought home from India. I also tossed in some black sesame seed spice mix that was lying around, and a dash of paprika to give them that nice red colour. Just add whatever seasoning you want to achieve the desired hotness and/or flavours you’ll expect to taste when devouring these little suckers later on.
Once all your spices are in, stir like crazy until all the wings are fully coated, and then let sit in the fridge for a few hours. About an hour before service you need to pull them out of the fridge and let them warm up to room temperature a bit – this helps them cook more evenly on the bbq; but and more importantly it achieves the crispy skin that makes them especially awesome eating… I’m getting seriously hungry just writing this!
Guess what? It’s grilling time! Make sure that your bbq nice and hot; and when it is, line up your wings around all the hot spots, making sure they get those beautiful grill marks that make folks say “Ohhh!” and “Ahhh!” just by looking at them. Oh, and no watching t.v. or taking off to the bathroom while you are cooking! Like precocious children, wings being cooked on a hot bbq need constant supervision if they are to turn out just the way you want them too. However unlike children, your wings won’t grow up and cause you years of grief and frustration, or crash your car and blame it on their little sister… I think you know what I mean…
You’re almost there – just keep turning ’em a few times, making sure to get those gorgeous grill marks on both sides; and once you’ve achieved this, remove all the wings, and pile high on a platter to resemble a small mountain
Your wings are now done! Grab a cold beer (or in our case, a cold cider) and if you have people over, then call the gang and everyone tuck in to a brilliant feast! You will find these wings flavourful, moist inside and quite spicy – often to the point that they rarely need anything else to go with them. Having said that, it’s not a bad idea to have a ranch dip lying around just in case you need to temper the heat a bit. Either way, these wings are a great dish that – when combined with a nice fresh salad – make up the better part of an beautiful evening patio dinner on a hot summer day.
And yes, these wings are are not only a cinch to make, but are pretty much guaranteed to impress your friends. So if by chance you are have company soon, then I strongly I suggest you whip some up and bring out the BBQ Hero that lays dormant inside you from Sept – April… Trust me when I say that you – and your friends – will be glad you did!
Running The Numbers
So there you have it: Easy, awesome and AFFORDABLE hot wings you can have at home anytime. I figured the plate in the picture above equals between four and five pub orders of wings; except ours are all big and fat, unlike the teeny tiny ones served at restaurants and bars. Even better is that our total cost for all the protein was $11- which is pretty much the cost of just one order of wing sat the pub – so about a 75% savings for a better meal.
However, please not that when made at home, these wings won’t be served by a 5 foot 2′ blonde 20 year old whose bulging out of a black mini skirt dress; and no, if you come to my place I won’t put one on either. I have to draw the line somewhere!
Now go forth, buy some wings and then go about the task of creating some amazing “Happy Hour” moments at home – I promise if you try this, it will not be your last time. And by the way, if you invite me over to try out your wings, I promise to bring the beer!