Wings – where to even begin? There are wings and there are wings. I want wing perfection, and why not? A plate of wings is well into 3 figures on the calorie count so why bother wasting it on soft, limp, greasy monstrosities that even the majority of professional kitchens refer to as buffalo wings.
For the record, Brew Dog (on a good day) are probably top of my local list, they have a coating I can’t put my finger on – cornflake maybe – they look like this (at least they used to). You may be surprised to learn that Wetherspoons seem to do a consistently excellent bowl of wings, and for less than a fiver – but if it’s best of the best you’re after (in London), that is widely acknowledged to be Wingman’s.
A good wing is crispy – this really is the long and short of it. I have heard or read a variety of techniques to achieve this and will be experimenting and reporting the outcomes below. I think it’s fair to say that the home cook would rather not have to deep fry wings – aspart from the fat content, it’s just more aggro in the clean up. As yet I don’t see an alternative, but again I have read about a few so will try them out below.
I accept the existence of various flavouring options for wings, but as a wise man once said, “it’s all about the buffalo buffalo buffalo, bitch”. There’s no real need to faff about with your own buffalo sauce – Frank’s is more or less as good as it’s going to get – maybe start there and pimp as required.
Before we start, you should know that this research is unlikely to be anywhere near as comprehensive as the Serious Eats oven wings piece. Just thought I’d try a few extra things, including the BBQ, and see how they really stack up to fried – because if fired are still head and shoulders above the rest then fried it must be!
(Spoiler: The outcome from Serious Eats was to give them a small amount of baking powder, and leave then to dehydrate in the fridge overnight).
Unless during the course of this experiment I discover something mind blowing about how to pre-treat a chicken wing to get a glass-like crispy skin from it’s naked form, the easiest way to get a crunchy win is to coat it. You can mix a bit of salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper into a bit of flour if you like – but don’t absolutely cake the wings in it.
Variant: Seems as though thee’s a school of thought that suggests baking powder is a better option than flour, and yet another to suggest cornstarch (aka cornflour). Will give both a go.
Flour and Freeze
This is another popular ‘wing hack’. I was lucky enough to order wings at an Aussie bar in Costa Rica on holiday a few years ago, and the old girl in the kitchen claimed this was the only secret to the amazing crispy delights she served up. I think it helped that the wings themselves wre bloody massive, but on further research it seems as though there is a schookl of thought that believes the freezing process breaks down something in the skin and helps them crisp.
In the Oven
Would be nice to think this works, and sure – I have made oven wings that are… ok. BUT, is there a combination of techniques that make then 95% as good as a fried wing, because I’d take that all day long!
To start with, a baking powder based coating is probably essential. As is a rack above a tray rather than straight onto the tray. Will better results be had from a high temperature of 230C for half hour, or 180C for an hour? I have even read a few that suggest 120C for half an hour then 230C for an hour.
Will let you know asap…
Confit the wings, then freeze them, then fry them again – surely not???
On the BBQ
Is it possible? Will let you know after trying them in conjunction with my fuel dome.