There is (arguably) no better food to eat in front of a game -or the Super Bowl- than those which can be eaten on the couch, with your fingers; the fewer utensils and more napkins required, the better.
Chicken wings fall into the category of respectably trashy food; most often served in paper-lined baskets, they’ve earned a spot on every sports bar menu alongside nachos and fries. But they can be made at home; you don’t need to peruse the frozen food section, or get them free when you order pizza.
Many pub-style wings are deep-fried, but roasting is a perfectly effective -and far healthier- method of cooking chicken wings. The high, direct heat cooks small pieces of chicken through quickly, caramelizing the exterior and crisping up their skin. Once roasted, you can toss them with any sauce you like, then give them a final turn in the oven – be careful, sweet sauces can burn easily. If you want to streamline the process, use bottled sauces (think barbecue, teriyaki, sweet chili, Jamaican jerk) to finish your wings.
Here are a few tips for first-timers:
- If you buy whole chicken wings, snip off the wing tips at the joint; the pointy ends have hardly anything on them. If you like, set them aside for stock.
- When roasting, spread your wings out in a single layer and make sure you don’t crowd the pan; a little space in between will allow them to caramelize, rather than steam.
- Lining your pan with foil or a silpat baking mat will make your life infinitely easier when it’s time to do dishes.
- Because most sauces are sweet and burn quickly, it’s a good idea to roast the wings first, tossing them with sauce toward the end.
(For extra-saucy wings, make extra and reserve some to toss your wings with again after they’ve finished cooking.)
- For extra-crisp, caramelized wings, run them under the broiler for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time (watch them carefully!).
- If you’re looking for more meat and less skin, try skinned chicken drumsticks in place of the wings – they’re bigger, of course, but also meatier.
A Trio of Chicken Wings
3-4 lbs chicken wings or drumettes, wing tips trimmed
canola or olive oil, for cooking
Classic Hot Buffalo Wings:
1/2 cup Red Hot or other hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup butter, melted
Sticky Garlic Hoisin Wings:
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
Curried Chutney Wings:
1 cup mango or peach chutney
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. curry paste or powder, or to taste
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Pat wings dry with paper towel and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. (Lay them on a wire rack set on the sheet, if you have one.) Drizzle with oil and toss to coat; roast for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through and starting to turn golden.
Meanwhile, stir together the sauce of your choice. Remove wings from the oven, drain away any fat in the bottom of the pan, toss wings with sauce (if you like, save some to toss the wings in afterward) and roast for another 10-15 minutes, until the skins are crispy and the sauce is caramelized. If you like, turn on the broiler and cook for 2-3 minutes, until deep golden.
Serve immediately, with napkins. Serves 6-10.