Chicken Wings!

Twice this week and once about three weeks ago I saw an episode of Good Eats about how to make chicken wings. Tonight Lauren and I decided to make it happen. The picture you see here is the finished product. The rest are a photo blog of how the chicken wings came to be. At the bottom of this entry is the chicken wings episode of Good Eats, which we followed pretty much step for step.

In order to create our steaming rack, we bought two flat splatter screens ($4 each) and some U-bolts with nuts ($3).
With some scissors, we made holes in the outer edges of the screens to give them some height and make them stackable.This allowed us to place two trays of wings inside the 5 gallon stock pot I normally use to brew beer. If you aren't in to building anything, you could also use a stainless steel colander provided that the bottom half, where you'd lay the chicken, fits inside of your pot and you're able to cover the top sufficiently. Though as you'll see later the entire process is kind of lengthy, and doing it in small stages will only make you wait longer.
As for the wings, we bought a 5 lb family pack of chicken wings at Meijer. On Good Eats Alton Brown mentions that due to high demand for breast meat in the US, the chicken wing has remained relatively cheap. This is true. Our package of wings cost $8.95 for approximately 15 whole wings, which I "butchered" (a normal person might say cut) into the 30 "wings" you'd be charged for in any bar or restaurant. Here is a quick how-to on that:
Cut off the tip and throw it in the trash. Then squeeze the remaining wing like a pair of pliers. This will reveal the softest point (the joint) between the flat and drummette. Cut through it. There, you're done.5 lbs of chicken wings cut up and ready to go.
Arrange the wings on your steamer tray, bring a couple inches of water to a boil and set the tray inside your steaming pot for 10 minutes. If you're wondering why you have to steam them, the episode explains that it helps remove some of the fats and oil that would otherwise cause major smoke issues in the oven.When 10 minutes is up, remove your steamed chicken wings (the skin will be slightly tacky) from your tray and set them (uncovered) on cooking/drying racks atop a paper towel lined baking sheet. Preferably one with a lip.Place your baking sheets on the bottom shelf of a cold refrigerator (30-35 degrees). Both of these details will help prevent any salmonella issues both with your chicken and anything else in the fridge. As it turned out, our nifty steaming rack also served as a shelf so we could stack our chicken wings in the fridge. Leave the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 hour.The rest is easy. After your hour is up, remove the paper towel from beneath the racks, replace it with parchment paper and bake your chicken wings for 40 minutes at 425 degrees in the center of the oven. At the 20 minute mark flip your wings. If you are cooking two trays at once make sure to rotate the trays at this time.

Once 40 minutes is up grab the biggest bowl you can find and toss your wings (while they're hot!) in your favorite sauce. 1/2 cup of sauce per dozen is a pretty good ratio to use. We used Sweet Baby Ray's Buffalo Wing Sauce on one half and Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ Sauce (+1 tbsp Honey, +1 tbsp brown sugar) on the other.

They were so awesome. A little time consuming, but well worth the effort. Its pretty easy to see that they're quite a bit meatier than what you'd normally get at restaurant, but for what its worth we had 30 wings between us and only finished about 18.

Until tonight, I've always been mildly annoyed that I can't fully enjoy bone-in wings at a restaurant because I'm afraid of making a mess of myself. This took care of that. And I didn't have to mess around with the hazards of in-home frying.


Rach said...

dude, those look so delicious I can't even stand it. I LOVE wings...but I'm not sure if I would have the patience to wait through all the steps on this one. I love how economical this meal was. Did you have them with blue cheese or ranch? I'm still searching a good blue cheese recipe. Let me know if you find one.