Like onion rings, fried pickles, and all other good bar snacks, buffalo wings require a dip in the deep-fryer—great for a crackly texture, not so great for the waistline. That’s why, for every deep-fried chicken wing recipe out there, you’ll find another recipe for one that’s baked. Too often, though, the baked version winds up either sticking to the sheet pan or coming out flabby. So can one really make a baked version with a shatteringly crispy skin that’s just as good as fried?
With a few tricks up your sleeve, yes. There are several different methods that promise to deliver on crispy chicken wings and drumettes. One is to bake the wings at very high heat; we’ve found this can dry out the meat before the skin turns crispy. Another is to toss the wings with baking soda before putting them in the oven. Unfortunately, baking soda can impart a chemically, bitter off-flavor that even hot sauce can’t mask. Our favorite method comes from Alton Brown, and it calls for rendering out some of the fat by either steaming or boiling the wings before baking them, which helps to speed along the crisping of the skin, as well as drying the skin before baking. The result? Buffalo wings that offer the same satisfying snap, but with less cleanup and caloric regret.
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