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For my entire life, hot wings have been a source of great frustration. You get sauce all over your fingers and your face, you can never gauge how you’re going to fare up against the hotness level of the sauce, and all-in-all you get about 3 bites of chicken for your hardship. I never ordered them and never craved them. And then I met Cam.
Cam always wanted to go out for wings with me, but I always declined and he resorted to “Yeungs & Wings” nights with the boys. It wasn’t until he sent me this video that my answer changed to “yes”. No, wait. Did you just skip over watching that video? Because if you don’t watch that video, you might as well just stop reading. Now that you’ve watched it, lemme tell you…It seriously works. Suddenly wings became an unhealthy obsession for Cam and Jo. We took it upon ourselves to consume and critique wings from every restaurant in both of our towns, and anywhere else we could get our hands on them.
But recently we felt like total fakers. We didn’t even know how to make wings ourselves. Cam was reluctant to try, doubting our skill level, but I’m pretty persuasive. So one gloomy Saturday we embarked on a hot wing adventure/date day/master chef competition… whatever you want to call it. And cue this blog post. We did the dirty work for you so that your football/sweater weather season takes flight. Get it? …Wings. Here is our literally dummy proof ten step process to the best, most rewarding wings of your life.
Decide on your recipes.
Cam really enjoys this YouTube show called “Hot Ones“, as well as “Binging with Babish“, two cooking channels. We took a lot of our inspiration from those two shows. We chose to make three types of wings: Classic Buffalo, Lemon Pepper, and a twist on Teriyaki. The buffalo wings only require your favorite buffalo wing sauce (we chose Sweet Baby Ray’s, but could’ve chosen better). Lemon Pepper uses this Culinary Selects seasoning, as well as butter. And the teriyaki sauce includes a whole lotta goodness (see recipe above).
Buy your ingredients.
We had to go to two different supermarkets because chicken wings are apparently hard to come by. We ended up buying fresh wings, not frozen. Here’s a quick anatomy lesson. A chicken wing is made of three parts: the drumette, wingette/flat, and the wing tip. Just to let you know how dummy-proof this process is….Cam and I didn’t realize/remember/who knows that when you buy wings from the store, you “butcher” them to create a wingette/flat and a drumette from each full wing. These two dummies bought a package of “wings” and a package of massive chicken drumsticks and were like “whaaaaa???” when we took out a full wing and figured out how dumb we were. But we STILL succeeded! This is an underdog story. We discarded the wing tips, but some people eat them or use them to make chicken broth.
Prepare the wings & refrigerate overnight (or at least a few hours).
This step is the most time consuming and we (Cam) really focused and worked slowly because he had never prepared wings before. He used scissors to separate the parts of the wing into drumstick and wing because it’s pretty tough getting through the cartilage. Once the pieces are separated, you toss the wings in one teaspoon of baking soda, one teaspoon of salt per pound of wings. This is the most important step if you are baking your wings (instead of frying). Refrigerating the wings over night with this coating dries out the wing so that they have a matte finish and it makes for really crispy wings as a result. We left the wings in for about 5 hours instead of overnight. This was a game-changer. No need for a fryer!
Bake for 1 hour @ 400 degrees.
After the wings have been in the refrigerator for a while, it’s time to bake them. You will know they are ready to bake when they are no longer shiny or wet looking. Normally other people would do other fun stuff/get things done/watch half a movie/not be weird during this hour of baking, but we literally sat in front of the oven with the light on for the entire hour watching our wing babies cook. Look at them go! They’re growing up! (That was a heartless and insensitive comment.)
Prep your sauces.
If you’re just making classic wings, there’s not much for you to do during this step. We did have to mix together the teriyaki sauce at this point for that batch of wings. Let me take this moment to tell you that this is not actually teriyaki but a more complex sauce. Not your average, so it’s worth a shot! The lemon pepper wings needed to be coated with melted butter first and then sprinkled with lemon pepper. We didn’t measure it out, just eye-balled it. Because we are so good at cooking. Another plug, I would never order lemon pepper wings typically, but they are actually so delicious. Buttery with a hint of tangy-ness. I swear it’s good. Also make sure you have some serious bowls ready to dump all the goodness onto those smokin’ wings as soon as they come out of the oven.
Flip wings every 15 minutes, if you don’t have a rack under them.
Since we didn’t have a rack or grate that was oven-proof, we decided to flip the wings every 15 minutes (during the hour from step 4) so that they cooked evenly on both sides, without getting soggy. See the master flipper at work. Ooh. Aah. *Applause*
Toss your wings to coat in sauce.
Another thing I did not know Cam was good at. He said it’s all in the wrist, but wings were almost hitting the ceiling at this point. Cam was also jumping with excitement, which might also explain the air these wings were getting.
Put back in the oven for 7 minutes (optional).
There was a difference of opinion among the chefs on whether this step was worth it. My opinion is that it helped the sauces stick to the wings more so that they didn’t just instantly drip off onto your fingers. Cam was like “I like saucy wings”. You decide which camp you’re in. If you’re into this step, pop them back on the tray and put them back in the oven for 7 minutes. I say 7 minutes because you won’t be able to wait the extra 3 minutes it takes to get to 10.
Pour yourself a beer & practice your form.
Enjoy those hot wings.
We were so proud of ourselves after this culinary adventure. My Dad gave Cam about 5 fist bumps for creating the best tray of wings ever. I think I was given one large saucy kiss on the cheek.
Don’t forget to share these tips and recipes for your next party, football game, or random Saturday at home. If you don’t think you’re qualified to make wings….you can totally wing it.