Pub Night: Sticky Honey Chipotle Chicken Wings
This Thursday is PUB NIGHT!! WAHOOO!!!!! Who doesn’t like a good pub night? Particularly one where you don’t find yourself, at 3 am, wondering if it’s okay to leave your car in the parking lot, deciding that taking a leak is far more important than any car considerations, and then the last thing you can somewhat remember is yelling out to the person that you THINK might possibly be a cabbie, “I LIVE…THAT WAY!!!” before passing out. Ah, pub night. It’s a gem among week days. But really, my friends, the joys of participating in pub night from the comfort of your own home mean NO drunk drivers and just possibly a few drunk stair climbers. It’s a win-win situation, where all the winners get to eat lower fat versions of jalapeno poppers, firecracker shrimp, and finger licking oh-so-sticky honey chipotle chicken wings.
So here’s the thing about baked chicken wings: they’re not crispy. You know that recipe that says “Crispy Baked Chicken Wings”? It was written by a liar. Now I’m not trying to be totally inflammatory, because there are ways of making your baked chicken wings more crispy than those awful soggy wings that we’ve all tried and despised. For example, you could bread them! But I wasn’t feeling the breaded yen today. You could also deep fry them! Wait, I said ‘baked’ chicken wings. Right. Never mind. Or, you could come to terms with the fact that your chicken wings are less likely to have a crispy dry skin, and instead just go with the flow. Don’t dry out the skin, caramelize it. After all, sticky wings are the next best thing to crispy wings in my book.
These wings are about a medium spice (well, I thought they were mild but Mike said medium…..not to imply that one of us is tougher than the other, or anything, just sayin’…..) which you could easily spice up or down to your preference.
One of my favorite (and by ‘favorite’ I mean, “I think you’re pissing me off, please stop talking NOW”) wing related questions, from back in the day when I was a happy barmaid, was, “How hot is hot?” Really. Are you kidding me? This is one of those “Do I look fat in these pants?” kind of questions. There is no right answer. If you say, “Meh, hot is kinda hot but not burn your face off”, the customer will eat them and either be disappointed that they were so mild, or furious that you misled them into poisoning their sensitive tastebuds with copious amounts of capsaicin.
My line: ”Well, if you like really spicy foods, then hot will be manageable for you – and maybe even closer to the medium side. But if you don’t eat a lot of spicy foods, than hot COULD BE really hot, so you might want to consider ordering medium with hot sauce on the side.” I might as well have said, “The weather will be partly sunny and partly cloudy with a chance of rain and average wind chill.” You will notice that the perennial server often has a gift for avoiding your targeted and direct question, while leading you down at least two possible alternative allies. Because really, it doesn’t matter what we say. If you want to order hot, you’re going to order hot. And if it hurts? Well, we gave you are caveat out front….However, these wings are less likely to hurt. I can say that with confidence. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t finger sucking, sticky-licky, wickedly delicious. And baked. I always have to mention that ‘baked’ bit, due to my deep-fried phobia.
Sticky Honey Chipotle Chicken Wings
Serves 2 for dinner, 4 for a passed appetizer
- 2 lbs chicken wings
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 chipotles chiles in adobo sauce
- 2 tbsp adobo sauce (from around the chiles)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- non-stick cooking spray
Creamy cilantro and scallion dip:
- 1 cup Massalanka yoghurt *
- 2 tbsp light mayonnaise
- 3/4 – 1 tsp garlic salt
- 3/4 tsp onion powder **
- 2 scallions, green and white parts
- small handful cilantro (appx 2 tbsp finely chopped)
* Massalanka yoghurt is a tangy buttermilk yoghurt. If you can’t find Massalanka, try using the same amount of Greek yoghurt thinned with 1 tbsp of lemon juice – or lime juice, since that goes with the theme here.
** Make sure that you’re using onion powder and not onion salt. Garlic salt tends to be both garlicky and very salty (go figure?) which means that the dip has more than enough salt already. If you use a salted onion powder, you might want to consider using 1 – 2 cloves of roasted garlic instead of the garlic salt. Or maybe you like things really salty. Who am I to judge?
Put the melted butter, chipotle chilis, adobo sauce, honey, and oregano in a small blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Taste this, and add salt and pepper according to your personal taste. After all, this will be what’s flavoring the wings.
If you buy pre-cut wings and drumettes, well, ignore this next little bit.
If you were cheap like me, and you bought fully intact chicken wings, you want to start to separate the flats from the drums. To do this, use a sharp knife to cut along the joint. If you aren’t sure of where the joint is, try waggling the wing tip up and down. You will feel like a heathenous villain doing it, but it will help you in the end. Put one hand on the joint to feel where it articulates, and then slice down in that direction using a very sharp knife.
If you like, cut off the wing tip as well. I usually cut off the wing tips because there is very little meat in there and it tends to cook so much faster than the rest that you risk having crusty, charbroiled little tips with raw wings. That’s just not cool. If you want to use the wing tip, keep it intact and attached to the wing while they cook and start with 2 1/4 pounds of wings instead of 2 lbs.
If you’ve cut off the wing tips, discard them at this point.
Put all of the wing flats and drums into a freezer bag, pour the chipotle-honey sauce over top, and rub it around until each piece is covered.
Leave the bag on your counter to marinade for an hour, or tuck it in the fridge to marinate for approximately 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil, and spray both of them thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the wings out in an even layer, making sure that they don’t touch or overlap. Place these in the top 1/3 of the oven.
Let them bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
While the wings start to cook, might as well make your dipping sauce.
Measure the yoghurt, low fat mayo, 3/4 tsp garlic salt and onion powder into a medium sized bowl. Give it a good whisk until it is smooth and combined. Taste the dip, and if it isn’t too salty (garlic salt varies in terms of it’s garlic to salt ratio) add an additional 1/4 tsp garlic salt.
Finely chop the white and green parts of two scallions (green onions).
Pull the leaves off of your cilantro stalks and give them a fine chop as well. There will be approximately 2 tbsp of finely minced cilantro.
Whisk in the scallion and cilantro, and adjust the seasoning if necessary (I find that it’s plenty salty enough, but maybe that’s just me). Leave the dip to rest in your fridge as the chicken wings cook. The resting time will allow the flavors to combine a bit more, so that the green onion and cilantro start to pipe up as much as the dairy and salt.
Has it been 20 minutes yet? If so, pull out the baking sheets. If any liquid has accumulated on the baking sheets, drain it off into a fat depository.
Flip each wing over, and if you had the baking sheets on two different shelves then rotate the sheets as well.
Put the wings back in the oven for another 15 – 20 minutes.
The wings are done when you can prick a drumstick (close to the bone) and the juices run clear.
Serve the wings with carrots, celery, and plenty of your creamy cilantro-scallion dip.
I am a total sucker for caramelization. I will admit it. Seeing a slightly blackened wing makes my heart go all aflutter.
Sticky sweet-hot wings are what it’s all about. Sure, they don’t look exactly like your average deep-fried pub wings. But that’s because they aren’t deep fried. I wouldn’t deign to call these ‘healthy’, because they’re not, but at least you’re committing less of a nutritional misdemeanor than when you order deep fried goodies dressed in Frank’s Red Hot. Sometimes less of a loss is still a win.
HAPPY PUB NIGHT!!!!