The only Super Bowl I’m watching Sunday is one filled with Buffalo Wings. According to the National Chicken Council Americans will consume some 1.23 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) chicken wings this weekend. That’s approximately 4 wings for every man, woman and child in this great nation. And, a vast majority of said wings will be served deep fat fried.
Deep fat frying is the norm because it crisps the skin and renders out most of the subcutaneous fat that can make wings taste flabby. But most American cooks lack access to commercial fryers. Luckily we do have ovens. The problem with oven-roasting wings is that relatively high temperatures are required to produce crisp skin and that can generate a lot of smoke as all that fat squirts around. The trick is to steam them first to render out a lot of the fat. Then you cool them to tighten the skin, then you roast them in the oven. Yes, there’s a bit of labor involved, and yes…it’s worth it.
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2013
4 appetizer servings
12 whole chicken wings
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Load a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket* and 1 inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.
2. Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and refrigerate for one hour.
3. Heat the oven to 425˚F.
4. Replace the paper towels (under the cooling rack) with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.
5. While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken and stir to combine.
6. Remove the wings from the oven and transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm.
* You can steam your wings in 3 batches; OR you can get yourself two more steamer baskets, 1 (1-inch) washer, 1 (10-12 inch, 5/16th diameter) stainless steel threaded rod, 8 (5/16th inch) stainless steel nuts, a pair of pliers and build yourself a Steel Lotus (patent pending). Remove the handle from each of the steamer baskets by holding the nut under the steamer with the pliers and unscrewing the stem. Screw one nut onto the end of the rod. Twist on one steamer basket. Followed by another nut. Repeat for the other two baskets – spacing them each about 3 inches apart. Use the remaining nuts to attach the washer to the top of the rod. Wash, load, and steam!