For all our arguments over the ultimate fast food, one thing is abundantly clear - the world loves a chicken wing. In any country where you find something fat, feathery and flavourful, local cooks have found a way to turn them into something tasty. It’s small wonder that we manage to munch our way through more than a billion wings on Super Bowl Sunday alone.
Unfortunately, for all the promise of the humble chicken wing, cooking can all too easily end up producing a disappointingly greasy stick of gristle. To help you avoid wing washout, we’ve gathered a few expert hints and tips together to produce the ultimate handy guide. Ready the ranch and bring on the blue cheese. It’s time to get winging.
1. Salt and Soda
While many traditional recipes call for little more than seasoning, oil and heat, the real challenge with wing cooking is in the skin. To help you get the best possible crunch, a simple but surprising hack involves coating the wings with a mixture of salt, flour and baking soda before cooking. This will draw out some of the excess moisture and help the skin to blister, producing a wing with extra bite.
2. Brine and dine
Though the skin is obviously important, it’s only half the chicken wing story. There are infinite theories discussing how best to go about keeping the meat moist, but the most foolproof method is to use a brine. By soaking your wings in a salty solution before seasoning and cooking, you will help the chicken to retain its naturally juicy texture.
3. Fry will be done
Though you will find a wealth of perfectly tasty oven baked wing recipes on the internet, if you really want the definitive wing experience, the food must be deep fried. Though frying may be more unhealthy than other methods, you can’t beat the perfectly crisp and deliciously tender results that deep frying delivers
4. Soggy, not soggy
While deep frying is the only way to get the ultimate wing, it’s not free from risk. For instance, if your oil isn’t hot enough before you add the wing, the result will be a soggy pile of fat-soaked flesh - just as unpleasant to look at as it is to eat. To avoid such a disaster, ensure that your oil has been preheated to somewhere between 375-400 degrees fahrenheit prior to cooking.
5. Fry me twice
The real crux of any well cooked wing is the contrast between crunchy skin and juicy fleshy. Though everyone agrees on frying as the ultimate way to achieve this sought after end result, one restaurant has a radical suggestion for getting it right every time. According to chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese in San Francisco, by flash-frying the wings once, removing from the oil, and refrying a second time when they’re needed for service you can guarantee crispy, perfectly cooked chicken every time.
6. Butter in the sauce
With so many top notch sauces on the market, it can be easy to take the lazy option and slather your carefully prepared wings in whatever comes straight out the bottle. However, if you really want to go the extra mile, you can’t beat adding a helping of melted butter to whatever you want to use. This will give your sauce a velvety finish as well as a stunning sheen and is the only way to cap off the quintessential chicken wing.
With people all over the world making unbelievable chicken every day in all sorts of different ways, it’s clear that there’s no one formula for the perfect wing. That being said, if you stick to one or all of the hints and tips laid out above, you’ll go a long way to guaranteeing a game day snack you won’t forget.