Monday, March 10, 2014

Crispy Hot Wings

Wings! I crave them all the time. I think they're one of the best junk food-y dishes ever because they combine two of my favorite things: meat and spicy sauce.

I don't think there's anything remarkably novel about my recipe but at the same time, I don't think there are any restaurants that serve a better wing than mine. I owe that mostly to the fact I don't have to change out of pajamas to enjoy wings at home. But it's also because my wings are super crispy, the sauce I make is buttery and garlicky, and best of all, they're super affordable. A package of a dozen wings at the supermarket is something like, $2.50 (at least in my neighborhood). Compare that to a plate of wings at Bananabee's which is probably on the order of $8, psh. I'll take my wings homemade, thanks.
Ingredients:
1 dozen chicken wings (if you buy the wings whole with the wing tips still attached, they're even cheaper but it's annoying to cut them apart so I don't mind paying a little more for the convenience)
1 cup potato starch
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
oil for frying
⅓ cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced

Put the potato starch in a wide and shallow bowl and sprinkle in a little salt, but only if you want. The sauce provides enough flavor that the salt is unnecessary (unless you're like me and you like half-sauced wings in which case, salt away). Toss together with a fork to combine and then coat the wings in the potato starch and dust off the excess. Potato starch is awesome because it makes the wings really crispy without creating a gummy layer where the skin meets the breading. It's just pure crispiness.

I haven't seen potato starch in my regular grocery store but I've seen it at Whole Foods (Bob's Red Mill brand) and at Trader Joe's. Even if all you use potato starch for is to bread wings, then it's worth having in your pantry, I swear. But it has several uses of its own. Mostly it's used as a thickening agent; you can use it to thicken a custard (instead of cornstarch) or a soup/stew or even pie filling. But, because it's gluten-free it makes a good flour substitute in most baked goods.
Anyway, let's get back to the wings, shall we? Get a pot of oil nice and hot and shallow fry the wings, turning occasionally, until cooked completely and the skin has lightly browned. It should take 10 to 12 minutes. You'll know that the oil is the right temperature if the wings sizzle but the oil isn't popping like crazy (around 350F).
Meanwhile, you can also get working on the sauce. Add the butter and garlic to a small saucepan and heat over a low flame until the butter is melted and you can start to smell the garlic. It should be sizzling and emitting a delicious aroma into your kitchen. I love the addition of the garlic. It's not for everyone - if you despise garlic you can certainly omit it. But if you like garlic, you'll like this sauce.
Remove from the heat, add in the hot sauce and stir. I also added in a few drops of this "BEWARE" hot sauce from a trip to Belize. It's seriously hot stuff; I mean it. One tiny droplet on your tongue will make you reach for the jug of milk in your fridge. And for some sick reason, I like that type of spice. And sometimes, I think the sauce needs a little extra kick because the sweetness of the garlic and the slickness of the butter tone down the heat of the regular ol' hot sauce. Once the sauce is assembled, set it aside.
When the wings are cooked through, remove them from the oil and set them on a paper towel to wick away the excess grease. At this point, you could also sprinkle these wings with your favorite spices - cumin, coriander, cayenne - but that's a story for another day.
At this point, if you're a saucer, you can toss the wings in the sauce but I like to serve them separately. And of course, I will list for you the reasons why I prefer this serving style. First and foremost, this allows the wings to stay crispy throughout the entire meal. If you're serving the wings alongside a pizza, for example, you might eat a wing, eat a slice, and then eat a second wing and if the wings have been tossed in sauce, by the time you're onto your second wing, it's gotten soggy and that sucks. I'm a bit of a slow eater so soggy wings are always on my horizon. Secondly, serving separately allows everyone to sauce to their hearts' content. If you're an over-saucer you can slather it without abandon; if you're an under-saucer, you can dribble on a few drops and let it be; and if you're Goldilocks, you'll do it just right. Lastly, it allows you to store any leftovers quite easily and when you're ready to eat, the wings can be warmed to their original crispy state.
You can see in this shot (below) how I like to sauce my wings. Just a little drizzle is enough for me. What can I say? I also love my pasta on the drier side, I barely dunk my chips into the salsa bowl, and I scrape the excess butter off of my toast. I'm just that cool. By the way, the garlickly hot sauce was delicious on the pizza as well. By the way, that pizza isn't homemade; it's from our favorite pizza joint in town and it was free! Not because we did anything special but because each box has a "collect 15 get a pizza free" coupon. We've been diligently cutting these out for about 3 years now (yeah, we don't eat takeout pizza too often) and we finally did it. Hoorah.
They're calling your name, aren't they? I reckon you should answer. Read that last sentence with your best Southern twang-y accent, please. It'll probably sound a little some'n like this: Ah reck-un yew shood ay-an-ser. Sorry, I'm such a loser.

These wings are so crunchy on the outside - you'll hear a really satisfying 'kruf' (my best onomatopoeia of the sound of a crunchy wing) - but lovely and deliciously succulent moist tender and yummy inside. Succulent and moist are both really gross sounding words. I hate using them to describe anything, let alone food. As a food blogger, it does get difficult because I tend to use the same sort of vocabulary to describe dishes over and over. But honestly, more often that not, "yummy" is a perfectly accurate description. Anyway, make these wings soon. I have a feeling you'll like them.
Here's the recipe page:

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