According to the National Chicken Council of the United States, the concept of cooking chicken wings and coating in a sauce was first discovered in Buffalo New York at a restaurant called the Anchor Bar in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo when cooking a late night snack for her son and his friends. Wings were on the restaurant menu the very next day unleashing a new industry and craze that she could never have imagined, with over 1.4 billion wings eaten during last year’s Super Bowl alone. …now that’s a lot of chicken wings.
From what I can remember, my first experience with the wing was while in college at the infamous Diamond Lil’s Restaurant in the old Skyline Hotel near Toronto, Ontario Canada. We were there a few Friday afternoons and the wings were free – a help yourself buffet that went very well with a beer and at the right cost for a student.
Today, every restaurant claims to have the best wings and the rage has spawned festivals throughout North America and as far away as London England’s “WingFest” known as the Chicken Wing Showdown held every July. The general consensus is that the wing must be crispy but can be flavoured with as many rubs and sauces as there are palates and from the Ritz Hotel to the corner pub, there is no social favour.
The most important ingredient, well that’s easy – find the best fresh wings at your local butcher. We found a place that sells huge wings with plump drumette’s and the meatiest flaps I have ever seen, and yet they are not fatty. Once you find a place like this, the rest is easy, which supports our Test Kitchen theme of keeping it simple.
Here is a tasty recipe that was recently enjoyed by our isolating university kids – feeds 5+.
Total Prep Time is 15 minutes and Total Cooking Time 1 Hour
- 25 Fresh Chicken Wings, approx.. 5lbs – we buy whole with drumette, flat and tip attached
- Cut the tip off at the joint and discard – some people save the tip to make stock but we tried this once and it was just so/so and now we discard
- To separate the drumette from flap simply feel for the joint between them and lightly separate and cut through. The first couple of times it feels awkward but by about the fourth one you will get the hang of it; or youtube below “how to cut chicken wings for beginnners”
The key to baking crispy wings is baking powder. You can use whatever your favorite rub is but just add the same amount of baking powder to the mix. Here is what the dragon lady likes to use and she always nails it.
- 1 tbsp each of: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, White Pepper (substitute black pepper if need be), Paprika and kosher salt. We sometimes add a tsp of Smoked Paprika
- We add an equal amount of baking powder. ie 5 tbsp of rub mix above – add 5 tbsp of baking powder
Ah The Sauce
- Use your favorite sauce, store bought or your own concoction. We generally make our own but do not follow a recipe and therefore never make the same sauce twice – let it rip a bit. But here is approximately what we make:
- 2 cups of ketchup, 2 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 tbsp of dijon mustard, a couple of dashes of worcestershire, a little smoked paprika, dash of lemon juice and a couple of squirts of sriracha.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- With wings in a bowl add rub mix while churning wings. Repeat the process until wings are well coated
- Place wings on a no-stick sprayed grill (for easy clean) over a foil lined baking sheet
- Place sheet in middle rack oven for a total of 1 hour, turning wings after the first 30 minutes.
- These are ready to eat immediately when out of the oven, so place in a tall bowl and mix with your favorite sauce and enjoy.
We served with Caesar Salad and potato salad.
The defacto standard is to enjoy the wings with your favorite beer, but I like to pair with a good bottle of South American red wine – like a Chilean. These are generally very earthy and I find rich to the palette but will not take away from the baked wings. Just a note about the current South American reds; these wines rival any in the world and you can get a terrific bottle of wine for under $20.