When I was a little girl, my father didn’t make much money so one chicken served our family of six. I was told that the best parts of the chicken were the wings and only the most special little children got them. Of course that made me beg for them, just as my parents hoped it would. To this day they are still my favorite part of the chicken. Moist and tender, they are full of flavor. I was thrilled when chicken wings became a popular appetizer and these are one of the most requested appetizers at my parties.
Wings can be baked, roasted, grilled, or fried. The most common version is Buffalo Wings, soaked in hot sauce and deep fried. I like the flavor of them but the heat doesn’t work for everyone so I prefer to serve this version. You can bake the wings as I’ve written, or you can grill them on a barbecue. Marinate as directed and cook on the grill. Reduce the sauce until thick and baste the cooking wings.
I love chicken wings with sauce so thick and good that it sticks to your fingers forcing you to lick them clean. Yep, I am a finger licker – in the best way possible. I can behave and act ladylike when the need arises, but I am much more laid back than that most of the time. There are certain foods that just need to be eaten with your fingers and chicken wings are certainly in that category!
The real secret to getting a sauce nice and sticky is to use canned consomme. You need the gelatin in it to thicken the sauce when you reduce it. It also adds a definite richness that is often lacking in other recipes. Make sure you don’t use beef broth. They are easy to get confused but broth (or stock) doesn’t have the gelatin you need. If you are using homemade stock that you made from beef bones, that is the best!
Many stores and butchers offer pre-separated wings at a much higher cost. You don’t have to spend the extra money because it couldn’t be easier to do yourself. Turn the wing over so the bottom is facing up. You will be able to see where the joints are between each section. Use a heavy-duty chefs knife and cut right through the joints. Most people discard the wing tips, but freeze them to add to the pot the next time you make soup or stock. There is a lot of flavor in those little wing tips!
Hoisin sauce is an Asian soy sauce-based concoction often used in stir-fry recipes. It is sweet, salty, and spicy. Thick and rich, it is a great base for any number of other applications. Boldly flavored, a little goes a long way. It is mixed with other flavors for a unique Asian flavor. Most hoisin sauces do contain some soy and/or wheat products so be careful if you need to watch the gluten content of foods.
Sweet and sticky as can be, make sure you have lots of napkins on hand when you serve these savory wings. I have been making them for years and there are never any leftovers when I put them out for parties. People just love them and so will you!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
The easiest way to peel ginger is to trim off any bumps and, using any regular teaspoon, scrape the peel off. To grate ginger, use a Microplane grater, the best on the market! They are inexpensive and worth every penny.
Kitchen Skill: Reducing Sauces
Reducing thickens liquids to a sauce consistency and concentrates the flavors. Place liquid in a saucepan and boil, evaporating moisture, until it reduces in volume and thickens. For most sauces once it coats the back of a spoon it is perfect. But if you continue to boil it you will eventually get to a glaze. Flavors intensify as it reduces so start with a mildly flavored liquid and season at the end of cooking. If you season the liquid with salt to taste before reducing, you will wind up with an overly salty sauce after reducing.
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1/4 cup mirin
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari for gluten-free wings
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 tsp peeled and freshly grated ginger
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (look for gluten-free version)
- 1 tbsp black bean sauce
- 1 (10 oz) can beef consommé (not beef stock!)
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes, optional
- Chicken Wings
- 3 lbs chicken wings, tips discarded, cut between joint into two pieces
- 3 green onions, minced
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds, optional
- Make the Marinade: In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients. Whisk thoroughly. This marinade can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
- Prepare Chicken: In a large, shallow ovenproof baking dish arrange the wings in a single layer, pour the marinade over them, cover and marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator. You can also place them in a resealable freezer bag if that is easier for you.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes until meat is tender. Remove from oven and transfer wings to an ovenproof serving dish. Turn oven down to 200°F and keep wings in warm oven.
- Make Sauce: Pour the cooking juices from the baking pan into a saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the white and light green parts of the minced onions. Cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly to keep it from burning, or until thick and sticky.
- Pour half of sauce over wings and toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange on serving platter. Drizzle with a little of remaining sauce, sprinkle with remaining green onions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately. Pass additional sauce at the table if desired or keep for leftovers.
- Yield: 10 to 12 appetizer servings.
- MAKE AHEAD: While these are best the day they are made, they hold up well and can be made a day ahead. Reheat, covered, in a slow oven until warmed all the way through. Garnish with onions and sesame seeds. Serve hot.