March 05, 2010

Spicy honey BBQ wings

I wonder, when Doug reads this blog, how much he really enjoys the play-by-play of his dinners. Also, what if he's planning my murder? Waiting patiently until I write up all his favorites? What's he got under that tarp in the basement?  

I kid! We don't have a basement.

In other words, he never says much about having his culinary life splashed across the Internet. But a couple of weeks ago...
Doug: I read where you made a barbecue sauce for your lunch the other day. Maybe you ought get serious with some barbecue. Like, a big old rack of ribs.
True love.

One thing I've learned though: it pays to start small, with what you know. So before I go tackling any big old racks of anything, let's play barbecue wings for a while.

Spicy Honey BBQ Wings
First, gotta marinate the chicken in some buttermilk. Don't have buttermilk? Add 1 tbsp lemon juice per cup of milk, let it sit 15 minutes, then add the chicken. Salt and pepper your wings, and soak them overnight in the fridge.

Don't mess with them frozen wings.

Y'all about ready for some deep-fry action?  Preheat some plain vegetable oil in a deep, heavy bottomed skillet on medium-high. Or use a fancy fryer and provoke my jealousy. Any neutrally flavored, high smoke-point oil will work, like canola oil or vegetable shortening. Mainly? Just stay out of the extra virgin olive oil or your smoke detector will hate you. We'll come back to this...

Next comes the breading. For 10 wings, I probably used 2 cups of flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, maybe marjoram. I add cayenne pepper too, but you can get color without heat using paprika. Two rules for breading: simpler's better, and trust your taste.

 Mix your breading right in a gallon Ziploc.

So that hissing pot of oil, huh? I poked around the Internet and found temperature recommendations between 350° and 375°. That ain't how I learned to cook though. Here's my secret.

Dig my action-photography skillz!

Drop in a pinch of the breading. It'll sizzle up vigorously when the oil is ready. Now we pull those wings out of the buttermilk.

Did I mention, don't mess with frozen wings?

Take just a few at a time. I did two batches of five, which fit nicely in the Ziploc and pan. Pick up a wing, let the excess milk drip off, and lay it in the bag. Seal the bag once you've made a layer.

Trap some air in there for easy shaking.

Toss the wings to coat them thoroughly. Now gently add them one by one to the fryer. This part is a little high-intensity for photographs. Not to mention goop-covered. I will say this: I try to place the wings away from each other in the oil. If you think of a clock face, I start at 12, then work my way clockwise. It helps at about wing four, by which time the oil is spitting like a volcano.

In, I'd say 12-15 minutes my wings were done. I like the skins extra crispy and golden brown. They could probably have come up at 10-12. It's a personal preference. Once they start floating, the meat is cooked through.

Eeaat meeee...

It's really important only to deep fry a few items at a time. You don't want the food to be crowded, nor should you lower the oil temp too much. So I moved this first batch into a casserole dish, and stuck them in a 350° oven. This has a double-bonus of removing some excess oil.

Eeaat ussss...

That's pretty much the universal chicken-frying procedure. I'm not gonna lie; it took me some trial and error before getting confident. The buttermilk marinate has almost made it foolproof. I ought to shout out chef Emeril Lagasse for that revelation.

So while that second batch is frying, let's mix up some sauce, huh? You could actually do this any time, but I'm a multitasker. I poured near-equal parts honey and ketchup in a large mixing bowl.

I could use more photogenic bowls, I think.

I was trying for a honey barbecue sauce like you get at the wing places, which? Not so much. I have a feeling those are mustard-based, so at least I have a project for next time. Anyway, to this base I added liquid smoke, cayenne, green Tabasco... probably cilantro... lemon juice, maybe? I've lost it. No, it wasn't a Buffalo Wild Wings honey barbecue. But it turned out sweet-spicy and wholly enjoyable.

 Now you know why a large mixing bowl!

Just before serving, gently toss your wings in the barbecue sauce. Blot extra sauce on the sides of the bowl and then...

Can't have wings without celery!

Add a beer and a ballgame, and who needs a sports bar?


  1. This is fabulous!! I can't wait to have a kitchen and try this myself! (well... not by myself... with a lot of help... and probably 7 times before it's edible...)

    But can you please publish a cook book?

    Love, Rebi

  2. I can't believe I am thinking about frying chicken.....this is one part of being in the South that my family has not picked up in 25. We do not fry chicken!! We eat some KFC, but we don't fry it ourselves.

  3. Ooooooooh-- we are trying these for sure. We have been looking for a simple, well explained recipe-- love this!!

  4. I don't think I was supposed to, but I laughed at the words "heavy-bottomed".

    It made me think of my reflection in the mirror.

    I'm still laughing.

    Oh, and the one and only time I tried to deep fry something I failed miserably. maybe it's time to try again.

  5. LOL Courtney -- that is hilarious. Tempting as it is, I will refrain from henceforth referring to my deep-fry skillet as the Courtney pan. :)

    I'm excited y'all! Wings are a great test-drive for frying chicken. They're small and manageable, and also affordable, so if you need a do-over you haven't blown your grocery budget.

    If you do try and like this recipe I'd love to hear about it. Call it my one-woman campaign against health nuttery.

  6. Mmmm...Fried...Chicken...(Fried anything really.) I have a fantastic recipe for honey mustard chicken wings. It's a Rachel Ray one. The sauce involves boiling honey, OJ, a piece of ginger, deli mustard, hot sauce & pepper flakes. It's always a winner!

    ~Sarah Schlossberg


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