Fresh off our first attempt at a Facebook Live production, I wanted to include a companion article for people who don’t have or don’t want to deal with Facebook. To get ready for the “Big Game” (the NFL is notorious for going after folks for using the proper name), I decided to try something out and do a live demonstration of one of my favorite recipes: Oven-baked chicken wings
To be clear, it’s not my recipe. It came from a cook who I’ve followed for a few years now: J. Kenji López-Alt. You might recognize the name if you read our gift guide for home cooks, as he’s the author of a large and wonderful cookbook called The Food Lab. The wing prep and cooking will work for any sauce or seasoning you desire, and the linked recipe has a Buffalo sauce for those so-inclined.
But I don’t like Buffalo sauce…
You’re in luck, because I don’t either. While I love all kinds of hot sauces, including Tabasco or Franks Red Hot, I just find it to be out of place on a chicken wing. I also like crispy skin, and a wet sauce of any kind just doesn’t work with that in my experience. Instead, what I whipped up was J. Kenji’s alternate chicken wing seasoning: Xi’an-style.
This is my seasoning of choice for two reasons: I’m a sucker for the tingling sensation that Sichuan peppercorns bring; and the recipe makes twice the amount of seasoning you need, which is great because it can be used on other things like popcorn, tater tots, or anything else a dry seasoning would shine.
Of course, these wings will take whatever sauce you’d like, whether it’s off-the-shelf, a homemade concoction, or something else entirely. The key here is the technique for baking the chicken wings so you get crispy, browned skin that holds on to anything and keeps much of it’s crunch, even when wet.
Get ready ahead of time
Regardless of your sauce or seasoning choice, the key point is that your wings will require at least 8 hours of curing time in the fridge before they can be baked. This isn’t something you can decide to do on a whim a couple of hours before the game and have ready for kickoff. This can also be a good thing, though, as you can prep everything the night before. An hour before you want to eat, preheat the oven, slide the wings in when ready, get your preferred seasoning ready, and wait for the chicken wings to be done.
The first part only requires a few knife skills if you bought whole wings, or nothing at all if you just went ahead and got pre-cut drummies and flats. Don’t worry, I won’t judge.
After that, you just need kosher salt and baking powder. I also suggest you invest in two pieces of equipment: Aluminum half-sheet pan and an oven-safe wire rack. One sheet and rack will hold about 2-3 lbs of wings. You’ll need a second set if you want to do more at once.
Cook per Kenji’s instructions, and you’ll have great wings. Toss in your favorite sauce or seasoning (add a little canola oil along with the dry seasoning), and serve.
That’s all there is to it.