I love Buffalo wings. Oh, how I LOVE them! Thanks to The Husband, over these ten blissful years of married eating, I’ve developed a fine appreciation for them. All this talk of the Super Bowl in recent weeks has had me dreaming about some good, spicy, tangy Buffalo wings. Don’t get me wrong, I know nothing about football except that there’s a halftime show and this year it’s Coldplay. I bet they’ll kill it, but how I wish it was the Rolling Stones again!
So anyway, they’ve been on my mind. No, not the Stones, the wings. Unfortunately (or fortunately) since early October last year, I’ve been on a healthy eating mission – yes, I got a jump on the typical New Year’s resolution thing and started early. It was nice to bring in 2016 slightly trimmer than I was when 2015 rolled in. So when February shows up and brings with it a yearning for something like wings, what’s a slightly less pudgy Malaysian woman to do? Figure out how to make them healthier! AND SPICIER. If I had one complaint about the Buffalo wings at our favorite local bar, it’s that while they are perfect in every other way, they’re never spicy enough. Ok, enough of that – time to make them as hot as I want.
Over the last two weeks, I scoured the internet for the best baked wings recipe. Okay, okay now – all you chicken wing aficionados – I see you shaking your heads. Stick with me for just a minute. What I found were lots of different methods for trying to get wings crispy and crunchy in the oven. Some suggested boiling the wings first, others steaming them then baking. I read recipe after recipe – none seemed convincing, not even my chef crush Alton Brown whose Thanksgiving Turkey recipe I have been making faithfully for almost ten years with great success! Finally I found a recipe attributed to Cook’s Illustrated that just sounded like it might work – crispy wings in the oven that weren’t fried? I hate frying – all that oily mess left to clean up! It suggested the following method – lay the wings out to dry uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, coat in a baking powder and salt mixture, bake at a low temperature for 30 minutes then at a high temperature for 50 minutes. It was the one method I’d read so far that I was willing to spend an evening and thirty chicken wings on. The result was beautifully crisp wings – unbreaded, not fried and yet so wonderfully crisp that I thought I had found the Holy Grail. Once you’ve accomplished this, what you do with your wings in your own damn business – use whatever sauce, dressing, dip, ginger glaze, soy blahbbidy blah, sesame such-and-such floats your boat. I had a craving to cure so it was straight up classic Frank’s Red Hot and butter, with one addition – a heaping tablespoon of Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen’s Hot Chilli Sambal to take the heat level WAY up. Here’s my version – the method is slightly tweaked for an even crispier wing experience.
Oh my, that’s enough typing, on to the recipe:
Spicy Sambal Wings (serves 4)
18 whole wings (trimmed and separated to wingettes and drummettes, about 3.5lbs)
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1 heaping tablespoon Hot Chilli Sambal
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
- Lay the wings in a bowl, blot dry with a paper towel and leave uncovered in fridge overnight. Spread them out in your bowl and much as possible so each wing is exposed to that cold refrigerator air. These have been sitting overnight – I wonder if the picture shows how dry they are.
2. Preheat the oven to 250°. Pat the wings dry again – by now there should be no moisture to sop up. Add the baking powder and salt and toss to coat.
3. Oil a baking rack (I used coconut oil) and lay it in a foil-lined baking tray. Arrange the wings on the rack trying not to crowd them and pop them into the oven for 30 minutes on the bottom shelf. While you’re waiting, make the sauce – combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook gently over medium heat to melt the butter. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
4. After 30 minutes, turn the oven up to 425°, and move the tray up to the 2nd highest shelf in the oven.
5. At 25 minute mark, rotate the tray front to back.
6. After another 25 minutes, remove tray from oven and flip wings over. Turn broiler to High, and return the tray to the high shelf in the oven for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove wings from oven and toss in wing sauce. Serve immediately. I served the wings with celery sticks and a homemade yogurt-based ranch dressing that folks were eating off a spoon. Ok, that was me – I was doing that.
I made a plate to take pictures of and my 7-year old said “Why does yours have those yucky green things on them?” I hope you’ll try this recipe. Now that we’ve found a method that works so well, we’ve decided we’re going to do Wing Night every fortnight. If I figure out any tweaks to make this even better, I’ll come back and change the post. And if you do, I hope you’ll let me know. Meanwhile, my mouth is watering and there are five wings left from last night.
Enjoy! – Auria