“Oven-Fried” Buffalo Wings with Rosemary and Lemon

tonyr_pot_k Eddie writes: My buddies and I have agreed to each host at least once this football season. I’m up next and I’d like to cook some. Do you have a decent buffalo wings recipe?

tonyr_cook_k Tony’s take: I do! (I think). I’ve spent many nights (hell, months) contemplating chicken wings and their place in my kitchen (gotta get out more). All of this R&D has led me to a few tricks that mimic the one thing that makes bar wings so great: they’re deep-fried and, as a result, good and crisp. Frying is less than optimum in the home-kitchen (especially for multiple batches of chicken) and it’s also excessive (wings are plenty fatty to start with; keep that to yourself; no need to get preachy). The goal then is to make baked wings that are crisp and have a light coating to sponge up the hot sauce. How? Start by getting the oven good and hot. Then, add a coating of rice flour to the wings (before baking) to help them crisp up and form that (almost fried) coating. Finally (or firstly, as it were), marinate the wings before roasting to give the chicken an extra layer of flavor. All of these simple, little tricks will make your baked wings as good as from a fryolator; and solidify your football-hosting dominance which is what really counts.

-The power of rice flour: Rice flour is lighter than wheat (no gluten). Sprinkle it on the wings  lightly (before baking) and it will form a thin crisp coating. Look for rice flour in in the international aisle at the supermarkets (or the Asian grocer). If you want a substitute, avoid wheat flour; it would become pasty and gummy in this application. Go with corn starch, if need be, instead.

-Flavor boosts: I like marinating the wings with some fresh rosemary and garlic. The combination is relatively subtle, but it gives the chicken a little depth; not so much to get in the way of the hot sauce (or piss off your friends). And I like to serve the wings with a squeeze of lemon juice for a little bounce of citrus. Nothing crazy, but a little refinement.

The recipe (Serves 8 as an appetizer)IMG_0004 1. Marinate: Split 3 lb. chicken wings into segments (if need be); discard the wing tips or use in a chicken broth. In a large bowl, toss the wings with 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 3/4 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary,  and 1/2 tsp. Pimenton de la Vera (or chipotle powder). Toss with 2 Tbs. olive oil and 2 smashed garlic cloves and marinate for 30 min at room temp or up to 2 days in the refrigerator. IMG_0005 2. Coat: Set 1 cup rice flour (or corn starch) in a shallow bowl. Dip the marinated wings in the rice flour and shake well (to shake off the excess). Toss the coated wings with 2 Tbs. olive oil.IMG_0015 3. Roast: Heat the oven to 450F. Transfer the wings to a baking sheet lined with a rack. Roast the wings until they start to brown evenly, about 10 min. Flip and continue cooking until the wings cook through and brown uniformly (make a nick into a thicker wing to check), 5 to 7 min.

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4. Toss and serve: Transfer the wings immediately to a large bowl and toss with 1/2 cup of your favorite hot sauce (I like Frank’s; or go with 1/4 cup Tabasco) and 1 lemon (juiced). Serve with plenty of napkins and celery and carrot sticks.

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