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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Party Wings

My husband, like most Y chromosome-bearers it seems, is a fan of wings.  I could go on and on about why I'm not such a fan, but talking down on food seems a strange choice for a food blog.  Instead, I'll say this...if I ever leave my husband for another man, it will be Chris Kimball of America's Test Kitchen.  If I ever leave Chris Kimball, it will be for Alton Brown.  And I ever leave Alton, it might be for Gina Neely. 

This recipe is a mashup of Alton Brown's wing preparation technique with the Neelys' wing seasoning mix.  The result is a crispy, spicy, flavorful oven-fried wing that doesn't need to be batter-slathered or drowned in butter, doesn't get sauce all over your fingers  and can be made pretty easily in large quantities with not a lot of attention from the cook.  Ka-chow!

I'm still working on the best way to make this for everyday eating.  This cooking method requires a rest between two stages of cooking...not hard to do, but hard to accomplish on an average weeknight. Alton Brown recommends steaming (therefore, partially cooking) the wings to eliminate some of the fat, then letting them air-dry in the fridge for no more than an hour (since you don't want partially cooked poultry hanging out too long...a big USDA food safety no-no), then baking them off. 

It makes ahead very well for a party as it can sit happily warming in a crockpot for a few hours.  If it's the weekend, and you've got the time to get through all those steps, it's just fine for a regular meal. I *think* the best thing to do if you want them for a weeknight meal would be bake them off entirely the night before (say on Sunday for Monday night dinner) at a slightly lower temp for less browning, fridge them, then reheat them under the broiler for a few minutes on Dinner Day.  But I haven't tried this, so I can't guarantee it.  If anyone does try it, report back please!  And it is prep-ahead freezer-friendly in that you can prepare the spice rub and apply it to the chicken wings then freeze them.

The step-heaviness of the process is SO worth the flavor and the bite of these little guys though.  You can of course adjust the spiciness by using more or less of the cayenne pepper, red chili flake and black pepper. 

Party Wings
Makes about 18 wings

2 1/2 lbs. wings cut into drummettes and double-bone pieces, tips discarded
1/2 tablespoon seasoning salt
1/2 tablespoon red chile flake
1 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
3 tbsp butter, melted (optional)
Blue or Ranch dressing, celery sticks (optional)

Pat wings dry.  Combine all spices and sprinkle over the wings.  Toss wings to coat thoroughly. (You can freeze the wings now for later cooking, or fridge them for same day or next day cooking.)

Put a steamer basket in the bottom of a large pot.  Put 1" of water in the bottom, and put the wings on the steamer rack.  Bring up to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to medium, and steam 10 minutes.

Arrange steamed wings on a baking sheet skin side up.  Put in the fridge uncovered for 1 hour to dry. 

Heat oven to 425F.  Bake wings 40-45 minutes, turning once halfway through.  If desired, tossed baked wings with melted butter, especially if you are going to put them in a crockpot to keep warm for a party.  Serve if desired with dip and celery.

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