With the Super Bowl* right around the corner, I've got finger foods on my mind. As far as I'm concerned, there's no better snack for watching a football game than chicken wings. There's a whole national restaurant chain built around this idea, so I've got some company. A couple of weeks ago I came across a recipe for crispy wings that turned out to be pretty awesome. You start with the wings, of course, about 8 or 10 of them unless you expect company, then multiply the recipe as you see fit. I can easily eat half a dozen of these babies myself, so keep gluttony in mind when planning. I like to start by looking over my wings and making sure all the little feathers are gone. Take some kitchen shears and cut off the wingtips. You can throw them away, or if you were raised during the Great Depression you can boil them up with some onion and celery to make a small batch of stock. If you like, you can cut the remaining wings in half at the joint, but I don't bother, they pull apart nice and easy after cooking and cutting them can be a chore. Once prepped, you dredge your wings in a mixture of baking powder and salt. For a basic recipe, use 1 tablespoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. You can get creative at this point and use seasoned salt or add some spices of your choosing. I used Cajun seasoned salt in mine, but let your taste buds be your guide. One important note. Some baking powder is made with sodium aluminum sulfate, and you want to avoid that at all costs as it give the wings a bitter flavor. We use the Rumford brand which is free of aluminum salts, so no worries. Mix your baking powder and seasonings in a bowl, then dredge your wings to give them a thin coating of the powder. Place the wings on a baking rack on a cookie sheet (cover your sheet with foil for easy clean-up) so the hot air will circulate around the meat and pop them into a 250 degree oven for about 30 minutes, then crank the heat up to 425 and cook for another 40 to 50 minutes. In phase one, the low temps combined with the baking powder dry out the skin and start the fat rendering. In phase two, the high temps crisp up the skin, seal in the juices and cook the meat to tender perfection. You will want to have a vent fan running during the high heat stage as the fat dripping onto the cookie sheet can generate a surprising amount of smoke, enough to set off a smoke alarm if you aren't venting (trust me on this). Once the wings come out and cool a bit, you can eat them as they are (that's my preference) or toss them in some barbecue or hot sauce of your choosing. I've tried several different ways of cooking wings over the years (grilled, deep fried, pan fried, pan baked, etc.) but this is now my favorite method and I'm going to stick with it until something better comes along. Enjoy.
*Yeah, that's right, NFL, I said Super Bowl, not the Big Game or some other such nonsense. You don't own language, you insufferable pricks.