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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chicken Wing Cook-Off

Welcome to our first annual Super Bowl Chicken Wing Cook-Off!

We love chicken wings, but I'm not a big fan of deep frying in the house.  So Matt and I decided to try two methods of cooking wings that don't require frying but still make a crispy, tasty treat.  

I decided to make classic Buffalo wings, baked in the oven.  Matt tried dry-rubbed wings smoked on the grill.  Both turned out spicy and delicious.  

Jen's Oven-Baked Crispy Buffalo Wings

I love to read about scientific cooking techniques.  Alton Brown has some great tricks and tips.  But my go-to site for tested techniques is The Food Lab at Serious Eats.  I used their method for oven baked wings and they turned out as crispy as fried wings.  

You need to start these the night before.  The secret tip to getting them to become crisp in the oven is to toss them with a little salt and baking powder and let them sit on a rack, uncovered, in the fridge overnight to dry out.  

For 2 1/2 pounds of wings, I used 2 teaspoons each of kosher salt and baking powder and tossed until well coated. 

Line a baking sheet with foil then place a rack on top.  Spread the wings on the rack and put them in the fridge at least 8 hours or overnight.  

After the 8 to 18 hours, the wings will look dry and pink-ish in colour.  Drawing out the moisture like this will allow the wings to get very crispy in the oven.

I pre-heated the oven to 450 degrees.  My rack was a little small (ahem) so I placed the wings on parchment paper to bake them. 

Bake for 20 minutes, then flip and bake 15 to 20 minutes more until browned and crisp.  

While the wings are baking, combine 1/2 a cup of Frank's Red Hot sauce and 1/2 a stick of butter in a small saucepan and warm until butter is melted.  This makes a very spicy Buffalo sauce.  I added some barbecue sauce to some of it to make a milder wing for wimps.  

And now, the competitor...

Matt's Spicy Smoked Wings

Matt loves smoked wings from Shmokey Rob n' Sons.  So he wanted to try a smoked chicken wing.  We've never smoked anything before but thought we'd try it out on the gas grill.  

We got some cherry wood chips and soaked them for an hour before it was time to smoke the wings.  

Then he rolled up the soaked chips in two tubes of heavy-duty foil.  

And poked some holes in the foil to let the smoke out.  He preheated the two outside burners of our grill to medium-low and placed the foil wood chip packs over the heat elements.  The centre burner was left off and that's where the wings will go.  

Matt also loves dry-rubbed wings so he used a spice blend on the wings.  

1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic power
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (this makes a spicy wing, reduce the cayenne for a milder taste)

Toss 2 1/2 pounds of wings with the spice mixture.  

Place the wings in a foil tray on the grill.  Close the lid and maintain the temperature around 225 to 250 degrees.  Cook for 90 minutes to 2 hours until wings are cooked through.

We tasted both wings side by side.  To be honest, both of them were a little spicy for me and I'd make them milder next time.  But both were delicious, perfectly cooked, and full of flavour.  

There was no clear winner this time, except everyone who got to taste the wings!  No oil to clean up and two kinds of tasty wings.  What more can you ask for?  

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