I’m not the type of person to deem any cooking project too big to try at home– just ask Brooke. But if you ask any of my good friends from college, they’ll happily tell you about Super Bowl 39, hosted in my apartment in Birmingham. Long story short, I made chicken wings, there was a fire. I’m talking real flames shooting out of the bottom of an electric oven. Yes, there was more than a little bourbon involved in that evening.
Fast forward 10 years. My love for football, and for chicken wings, is as strong as ever. (The only person I know that loves chicken wings more than I do, is Brooke. Needless to say Brooke’s not big on oven fires…) But these days, Super Bowl Sunday means a quiet evening at home while Parker sleeps in the next room and we share a bottle of wine or I whip up bourbon cocktails. For that, take-out wings just won’t do. So over the past weeks I set out to devise a recipe for chicken wings that is not only fire-proof, but also simple enough that I could confidently hand the recipe off to my sister-in-law and know that she’ll be turning out wings as good as any sports bar in town. Sloane, see what you think.
Brine-g it On
Our wings start out with an overnight brine. By soaking the wings in a mixture of water, salt, sugar and hot sauce the pick up tons of flavor and stay super-juicy throughout the cooking process. Brining chicken is nothing new, but the real genius comes when the wings are cooked in the brine before frying. Simply soak the chicken wings for 24-48 hours then bring them to a boil on the stovetop. Best of all the wings and be cooked up to two days before frying- one less thing to worry about come party time.
No Fear in Frying
The hardest part of the chicken wing is getting it fried correctly- if your oil is too hot the wings will burn before they’re cooked through (there’s no greater party pooper than medium-rare chicken!); if the oil is not hot enough they’ll come out greasy and pale. And even if you get your oil temperature just right, what the heck are you going to do with all of that oil when you’re done cooking?
Since our wings are brined and fully cooked before frying, you’ll only use a small amount of hot oil to quickly crisp the wings. No stressing over cook times to insure proper doneness or trying to devise a way to keep them hot and crisp while you cook batch after batch for 12 minutes a piece. See? We’ll get your chicken wings on the table so fast you won’t even miss your favorite commercial.
Some Like it Hot
Once your chicken wings are golden brown and crispy (less than 5 minutes) they take a quick bath in a traditional buttery hot sauce. You can make you sauce as spicy as you like. Our recipe would pass for medium on most menus, but mix it up and give a taste for yourself. If you want wings with more kick, just keep adding hot sauce until your taste buds catch fire.
Jamie’s Ultimate Chicken Wings
3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
4 cloves garlic
4 branches fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
2 lbs chicken wings
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
2 ounces butter, cut in to smal pieces
Combine the water, sugar and salt in bowl and whisk until disolved. Add the hot sauce, garlic, thyme and chicken wings. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight, up to 48 hours.
Transfer the chicken wings and brine to a medium sauce pot. If the wings are not completely covered, add water to the pot until they are. Place the pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. When the pot reaches a boil, turn off the heat and allow the wings to cool in the liquid for 15 minutes. Remove the wings from the liquid and store in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to serve.
To serve, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature while you prepare the oil and sauce. Place a large saute pan on the stove and full with canola or vegetable oil to a depth of approximately 3/4 inch. Turn the heat to medium.
Pour the hot sauce into a small sauce pot and place over high heat. Add the butter and whisk until melted and fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl or a second large saute pan and hold next to the stove.
Place the flour in a mixing bowl or baking pan and season well with salt and pepper. Roll the chicken wings in the flour to coat completely. To test the oil sprinkle a pinch of flour into the pan. If the oil sizzles immediately it is ready to fry. Remove the wings from the flour one-by-one and pat off any of the excess flour. Carefully place the chicken in the hot oil- the oil should only come half way up the side of the wing.
Let the wings cook until golden brown, 1-2 mintues, then turn with a pair of tongs and brown again on the second side. Transfer the browned wings to the bowl of hot sauce. Keep the pan of oil full of wings but try not to let the wings touch one another. Every time you remove one wing, replace it with another until the wings have been browned.
Toss all of the wings in the bowl coat with the sauce and serve immediately.
**Leave the oil to cool on top of the stove. When cooled, pour the oil into a bottle with a screw on lid and discard.