Let’s Talk Turkey about Chicken Wings
The "Big Game" is upon us. It is the time of year when the United States revels in the Great Wing Consumption. The National Chicken Council released its annual Chicken Wing Report, projecting Americans will eat a record-breaking 1.45 billion chicken wings during the upcoming Super Bowl weekend.
The figure represents an increase of 2% from last year’s report; the equivalent of 84 million more wings than in 2022.
NCC Spokesperson Tom Super says, “The two main reasons for the increase are more favorable prices and more people getting back to normal and gathering for the Big Game, whether at home or a bar or restaurant.”
Despite inflation, USDA says both wholesale and retail wing prices are down double digits from a year ago, and consumers are seeing a lot more features and promotions.
For a visual of such unhinged gluttony, 1.45 billion wings laid end-to-end would stretch from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia about 62 times. It would also give four wings each to every man, woman, and child in the United States.
With all that said, many American's will be dining at home and will be making the chicken wings in their own kitchen. The bane of many a home cook is a soggy wing. Whether it be the drum, or the flat, a soggy wing is a no-go. Lucky for you, I have the trick to solve this problem. All you need are a few key kitchen tools and a dash of patience.
First things first, DO NOT thaw your wings (unless grilling those bad boys). Also, baking the tiny delicacies will not produce the results the savvy consumer craves. You want those wings to be crispy, crunchy and juicy, all while not succumbing to the sauce.
For the kitchen tools, you'll need a large pot to begin your adventure. Any thick stew pot will suffice, but a cast iron one is best. After that, you'll need a thermometer (both for use with the meat as well as for the oil we're about to introduce), a drying rack, a proper mesh steel deep fryer scoop, a wooden spoon, a large mixing bowl, frying oil, and paper towels. Your rubs, and/or sauces are up to you and your taste.
Fill your pot half full with either vegetable oil, corn oil, or peanut oil. DO NOT USE CANOLA OIL. Now place that thermometer into the oil and crank your stove top up to medium high. As that heats up, prep your frozen wings. All this means is divide them up into batches of no more than a dozen...less so if your pot is not very big.
Here's the trick, and the part that those of you who may not be totally comfortable in the kitchen will be uneasy about, you need to heat the oil to 325-350 degrees (do not exceed these temperatures). If your oil gets too hot, jockey the heat back and wait. It may seem scary, but with a couple of precautions and rules kept in mind, it is not.
Safety first, makes sure have a lid nearby in case of fire. This is extremely rare and usually only caused by a lack of attention payed by the chef. If a fire does occur, just lid it and kill the heat on the stove top. NEVER USE WATER ON AN OIL FIRE!!!
From here, all that is needed is patience.
Once the oil has reached temp, carefully place the wings in one at a time. Once they're in the oily deep, give them an occasional stir with a wooden spoon (no plastic!). You'll keep this up for 8 minutes, or until your wings are all floating. Time here can vary as the size of wings can vary.
Remove the wings with your scoop and place them on your drying rack, with paper towels underneath. Keep them to the side and move onto batch number two, cooking them the exact same way. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Now that your wings have gone through the fryer, they're done, right? Wrong. Now we double fry. Place the wings back into the fryer, one batch at a time, and repeat the previous process. Once they've all been through again and have drip dried on the rack for a minute, or two, they'll need to be tossed. The best medium for a proper tossing is the large mixing bowl.
Place two batches at a time in the bowl, as to not over fill your vessel, which is equally important for chicken wings, the self and really all aspects of life. Sauce and toss those suckers (twice can be nice) and immediately plate them. The two time through technique will keep those wings crispy, juicy and saucy without becoming soggy. Just remember to check the temp on the fatties. They'll need to be 168 degrees and the thickest spot.
This double fry technique also works amazing with homemade chicken strips, as well as friend chicken. Again, cast iron is best. Happy frying and enjoy the "Big Game." Or don't. It's entirely up to you. Rock your freedoms.