Life

A Guide To Making Three Styles Of Chicken Wings For Super Bowl LV

It’s high time you learned to make chicken wings at home. Why? Well, the Super Bowl is this weekend, if you really need a reason. But who are we kidding? Most of us have been quarantined for the better part of a year — a good kitchen project is always a nice reprieve from the drudgery of Zoom meetings.

Today we’re going to show you how to make fresh wings — giving them a brine bath, baking them, and then saucing them with three sauce options.

Our sauces?

We’re going with the gold-standard sauce of wings and doing a Buffalo sauce. Then, I’m taking a nod from my home in the Pacific Northwest and hitting some of our wings with teriyaki. Finally, sticking with the PNW theme, I’m going to give a nod to Portland’s now-defunct Pok Pok Vietnamese fish sauce wings. I’ve only had those wings twice (once in PDX and once in Vegas, at The Cosmopolitan), so I’m basically going from sense memory for the recipe and doing them my own way (theirs are deep-fried and then pan-tossed — which is a little more complicated and messier).

Before we get to that, I want to note: The real soul of this recipe is brine for the wings. With a brine this good, you don’t really even need to sauce these wings. Yes, I know — that’s a big claim. But I assure you, these wings will dazzle on their own. The sauce just makes them that much better.

Chicken Wings Three Ways

Zach Johnston

For this recipe, I’m using my oven. If you have an air fryer or deep fryer, go for it. I like oven wings because it’s a sort of “set it and forget it” method that I know works every time. High heat crisps up the skin and also means cooking time is fairly short (less than 45 minutes).

I also made sure to buy my chicken as local and as ethical as possible. “Local and ethical” are reasons unto themselves, but I’m telling you: they also taste better.

Other than that, this recipe lives or dies by the brine. I’ve been using this brine for fried chicken, chicken breasts, and even whole roast chicken lately, so I knew it’d work on these wings. It really adds that extra oomph that takes chicken from fine to great while holding onto some serious juiciness.

What You’ll Need in the Kitchen:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large spoon
  • Large baking sheet
  • Baking paper
  • Small mixing bowls
  • Small pots
  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting board

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs. chicken wings

For the Brine:

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 green onion
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 limes
  • 1 heaping tbsp. MSG
  • 1 heaping tbsp. white pepper
  • Handful lime leaves
Zach Johnston

Method:

  • Add chicken wings to a large bowl.
  • Peel and crush garlic with a knife, roughly chop, add to bowl.
  • Roughly chop onions and ginger, add to bowl.
  • Juice the limes into the bowl and add in the rinds.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix with a large spoon until the wings are well coated.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Bake the wings:

  • Preheat your oven to 400f.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make a single layer of wings on the baking sheet.
  • Pat the wings dry with a paper towel and make sure to remove all the bits of garlic, ginger, and onion as best you can.
  • Bake the wings for 40 minutes, flipping over once after 20 minutes.
Zach Johnston

Okay, while the wings are baking for the last 20 minutes, it’s time to make all three sauces. Each one takes about five minutes, ten max, to make.

Buffalo Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (I’m using Valentina)

Method:

  • Slowly melt the butter in a small pot or pan, making sure not to brown.
  • Remove from heat and add the hot sauce and then whisk until fully emulsified.
Zach Johnston

Teriyaki Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • White sesame seeds

Method:

  • Add soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, a small tablespoon of sesame seeds, and vinegar to a small pot.
  • Heat on medium-low heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Once the sauce hits a low simmer, mix the water and corn starch and add to the sauce.
  • Stir until the sauce returns to a simmer and thickens.
  • Remove from heat.
Zach Johnston

Vietnamese Fish Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or liquid cane sugar, if you have it)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • Fresh mint
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts

Method:

  • Add the fish sauce, sugar, and garlic to a small pot.
  • Heat on medium-low and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Once the sauce hits a low simmer, combine the corn starch and water and add to the sauce.
  • Stir until the sauce returns to a simmer and thickens.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Finely chop a handful of cilantro and mint together. [Thai basil would be amazing here, too. -ed]
  • Toast the peanuts in a pan until just browned and then crush them in a pestle and mortar.
Zach Johnston

Put everything together:

Zach Johnston

Okay, our sauces are made and the wings are done. After eating like five of the wings fresh out of the oven (they’re juicy, slightly crispy, fall off the bone, and so, so flavorful), I buckle down and start saucing the wings.

First the Buffalo wings: I add about a dozen wings to a mixing bowl. I then put in two heaping spoonfuls of the sauce (I use a regular spoon you’d use for soup). I toss the wings until they’re fully and evenly coated. I plate those up.

Next, the teriyaki wings: Again, a dozen or so wings, two heaping spoons of sauce, and then toss. Before plating, I hit the wings with another sprinkling of white sesame seeds and then plate up.

Finally, the Vietnamese fish sauce wings: Dozen wings, sauce, toss to coat. I then add in the peanuts and fresh herbs and toss one last time before plating.

We’re ready to tuck in!

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

These are damn tasty wings. The teriyaki took me straight home to Seattle. It was sweet, garlicky, and an umami-bomb of flavor. The Buffalo wings were also wonderful and mildly spicy. I mean, come on! It’s hot sauce and butter on a wing. That’s never not good. The Vietnamese fish sauce wings were damn tasty, too. The funky umami of the fish sauce was tempered nicely by the herbs, peanut, and sugar with a nice garlic edge.

If I had to rank these by deliciousness, it’d be really hard. But, I’d probably go…

4. Buffalo
3. Fish sauce
2. Teriyaki
1. Licking my fingers with all three sauces on them.

You probably aren’t having guests this weekend. But if you do have your pod or cluster or bubble over, they’re going to lose it over these. Trust me on that.

Zach Johnston
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