Good morning lovelies. It’s been forever since I’ve been in your delightful company and it’s so nice to be typing away here again, putting together a post during the witching hour while everyone in the house sleeps and it’s just me, my computer, a cuppa and good music (a little bit of Peter Gabriel, Bowie, Haydn and Empire Of The Sun). I’ll be here on and off while Vix works on feeling better (bug, begone!). So, we were just recently in the States on a family holiday. I might do a little post on that at a later stage, but I had to share a foodie obsession that sunk its hooks into myself and my kids while we were there, and that is proper American Buffalo chicken wings. They’re as iconic as Coca Cola, cheeseburgers and cherry pie, and totally addictive.
Honestly, I ate so many of them I was waiting to start clucking. Spicy, crispy and totally, ridiculously delicious, I came back craving a fix. Only… When Googling for a good recipe, I saw that the crispy-skin effect was, duh, the result of deep frying. And there I was thinking I’d been rather virtuous. Not that I’m averse to the odd deep-fried dish, but I absolutely HATE cooking in a pot full of oil because, mess, and the smell, yech, also I don’t have a deep fryer or even an air-fryer lying around (though my mom has one and it’s brilliant and you could probably make these wings in one of them). Long story short, I Googled a non-fried recipe and discovered the secret to perfect, crispy chicken wings that I’ve now made enough times since we returned to confidently say it works. And then some. And that magic ingredient? Baking powder.
The technique is super simple and can be found on this great foodie website, The Cookful. They also have a really good DIY recipe for Ranch dressing (another American classic) which is typically served with the wings on the side along with fingers of celery and carrots for dipping.
It’s pretty basic. First you…
* Cut the chicken wings into drumettes and flaps (the part with the two skinny bones), and discard the wing tips. A sturdy pair of kitchen scissors is best, but when I can’t find mine a pair of the kids’ school scissors does just fine.
* Mix up a half teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of baking powder.
* Coat the wings in the dried mixture. The wings will feel dry and rather sparsely coated rather than doughy, but don’t stress; as long as you’ve given them a nice toss (using your hands) in the mixture they’ll be ready to put into the oven.
* Arrange them on a baking tray on some foil. You don’t want to grease it up: the point is to let them dry out (in a good way) and not get saucy or too oily.
* I pop mine in at around 130C for about half an hour. Take them out after the time is up (they’ll look a little pale and uninspiring, but don’t stress), carefully turn them over so as not to break any of the skin and pop back into the oven, this time at around 200C. You want them in for around 30 minutes to 45 minutes, basically you’ll know when they’re done because they’ll be golden brown and insanely crispy. My husband likened the crunch to KFC without the batter.
While the wings are still hot, transfer them into your serving bowl and pour over the Buffalo sauce. You need to make this about half an hour ahead of time to a) let the flavours develop and b) make sure it’s ready to pour as soon as you get those wings out to ensure maximum absorption.
* I make mine using Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce or Frank’s Original Red Hot Cayenne Pepper sauce that I buy at the Sea Point Spar.
* I put a healthy few (about fifteen) splats (yes, that’s the technical term) of Frank’s into a bowl, along with a few splats (about six) of Tabasco sauce (sometimes I use smoked Tabasco, which gives it an amazing flavour). You can omit the Tabasco if you’re working with Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce as it’s got enough of a kick, but I like mine volcanically hot, so there’s not much holding back from me.
* Then a very, very conservative dash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, one or two finely chopped garlic cloves, a tiny pinch of Maldon salt and a pinch of brown sugar. Emulsify it nicely before pouring over the wings while they’re hot, and Bob’s your uncle, The best wings this side of the Rio Grande. And it’s all thanks to that magic ingredient, baking powder (as well as the quite specific low, then high, cooking method).
Nom nom nommmmmm
* NOTE: Of course you don’t have to get yourself in a flap and douse them in a hot sauce if it’s not your thing. Your favourite homemade or store-bought BBQ sauce will also be delicious. It’s all about getting that crispy skin just right.