Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sure Thing, Chicken Wing

Sometimes you want a really satisfying meal with on-hand ingredients and minimal prep work. Sometimes your side dish consists of baked frozen fries *cough cough*. It happens. It's okay. We can't always throw together gourmet meals mid-week, but when chicken wings go on sale, suddenly inspiration (and craving) hits. You want some chicken wings, but you're not about to fill a pot with oil and go to town on those babies. Baking is easiest, and also easiest to clean up if you line the baking sheet with foil.

But can baked wings get as crispy as fried ones? With this recipe they can!! Using a dry rub to spice your wings magically allows the wings to crisp up really nicely with very little effort (baking them at 500 degrees F doesn't hurt, either). The Chinese five spice is a great spice mix that can lean in either a savory or sweet direction, depending on its use. Here, it's savory all the way, with some added spice from cayenne pepper. The original recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cayenne, but I cut back to 1 teaspoon and thought that was perfection. The sauce is so easy to make, and yet it tastes great and is a lovely match to the wings, neutralizing the heat nicely. I replaced the original chopped cilantro with scallions, but you can use whatever you like. Make it first so it has time to really absorb the mild onion flavor of the scallions before you serve it.

The most time consuming part of the whole recipe (other than the baking) is cutting apart the chicken wings if you purchase them whole. No biggie, though. With a sharp enough knife and some butchering skills, it's a breeze. But if breaking down chicken wings creeps you out, just ask your butcher to do it. I'm sure you won't be the first. These wings would also be an excellent replacement to the more common buffalo or BBQ wings at parties.

Spicy Chinese Five-Spice-Rubbed Chicken Wings with Creamy Scallion Dipping Sauce
Makes 40 wings and 1 cup sauce
(Adapted from Food Network Favorites)

Creamy Scallion Dipping Sauce:
2 scallions, chopped*
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken Wings:
40 chicken wing pieces or 20 whole chicken wings
2 T. Chinese five- spice powder
1 to 3 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on taste--1 tsp. was perfect to me)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce: Combine ingredients in mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients to incorporate them fully and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

If you have whole chicken wings, cut off wingtips and cut the wings in half at the joint. Discard wingtips or freeze to make stock at a later time.

Place the wings in a large bowl. Sprinkle five-spice powder and cayenne on the wings, add a few pinches of salt and about 15 grinds of black pepper. Rub the mixture into all the wings until no more loose rub remains. Wash your hands.

Line the wing pieces up on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup) so the side of the wing that has the most skin is facing up. Roast until cooked through, browned and crispy, about 25 minutes. Serve hot with sauce.

*Alternatively, replace scallions with 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves to follow the original recipe and make creamy cilantro dipping sauce instead.


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