This week’s challenge was to make chicken wings, in honor of March Madness. (Apparently, chicken wings are a favorite for snacking while watching sports.)
Now, I am not a huge fan of wings. I usually find them too fatty and greasy for my tastes. So I think I’ve only cooked them once or twice before.
When I don’t know what to start, I turn to one of my reference cookbooks. First on my list is Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything (Revised Edition), and sure enough, I found a recipe for chicken wings in the Appetizers section. Bittman’s recipe promised the tastiness and crust of deep-fried wings without the deep frying. It sounded like the perfect solution. (Since I didn’t modify the recipe, I won’t reprint it here, but if you don’t own a copy of Bittman’s cookbook, you really should.)
Bittman’s method is to first roast the chicken wings with a little olive oil, salt and pepper — turning and basting them halfway through with their own fat — for close to an hour. You then baste them with the flavorful sauce of your choice and turn the oven heat up high to achieve that brown, crusty skin.
Bittman offers six variations of sauces, and we tried three. Of those, we liked the traditional hot sauce (I used my leftover barbecue sauce from a previous challenge) and the ginger-soy glaze the best. Both of these darkened nicely and developed a crunchy skin, while soaking up lots of flavor. The beer-and-butter sauce was a bit too subtle, though, and those wings didn’t get nearly as brown.
My husband and I both enjoyed the end result very much. (The toddler refused to sample them.) The meat was falling off the bones and flavorful, without being too fatty or greasy, which is what usually turns me off about wings. During the long roasting time, most of the fat cooked away, but the meat did stay tender. Adding the sauce just at the end ensured it didn’t burn or get cooked away. I only wish I had made extra sauce for dipping.
I served these with crudites: celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and quartered mushrooms, plus a simple blue cheese dip, also from Bittman’s book, which I made by mixing blue cheese, lemon juice and plain yogurt. I would definitely prepare this yummy meal again for a party or sports-watching event. I think the wings would taste good at room temperature, and so also would make great picnic food.
All in all, a successful challenge! My husband hasn’t issued next week’s challenge yet, so stay tuned to see what it will be.