Spicy Baked Chicken Wings

Spicy Baked Chicken WingsThe Cookbook Club

Four years ago, my sister was inspired by the Food 52’s annual Piglet cookbook competition (it’s going on right now) to start a cookbook club with a group of five friends, and their families, who she knew were interested in cooking. Though some us had met before, and in some cases knew each other pretty well, it was a random group of people thrown together in pursuit of good food. The common denominator was my sister, and her love of friends and cooking.

This past weekend we celebrated our 20th Cookbook Club dinner—which is pretty remarkable considering that to make it happen five families have to coordinate their busy schedules. The cooking and choosing of books is the easy part. Try navigating through the sports, school, and work demands of 21 people. Our cookbook was the Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook by Tanya Holland. To say we ate well would be an understatement.

When the club started, nobody thought it would last this long. We hoped it would, but you know how these things go…they eventually fizzle out, or there’s drama between group members.

What makes this group different is it has ceased to just be about the food. The food is fantastic, but the real draw is wanting to spend time and catch up with each other. (If we can do that while having some rockin’ chicken wings and a cocktail, so much the better.) The change happened, I think, the night we went to The Slanted Door for dinner.

In February of 2013, we chose Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan  as our cookbook. (See Bo Luc Lac: Shaking Beef, our What’s For Dinner Wednesday post from February 2013.) But, instead of having a dinner at someone’s house, we decided this time we would do it a little differently. We made reservations for 10 (Adult swim. No Kids.) at the Slanted Door and had Charles Phan (sort of…who knows who was on the line that night?) cook us our cookbook club dinner. (We were hoping he could sign our cookbooks while we were there. Didn’t happen.) We ordered all of the dishes we had made at home, and discussed them as we would at any club dinner. We laughed. We drank. We were loud and it was a blast. (The club is looking at doing the same thing for our next cookbook, Mustard’s Grill Napa Valley Cookbook by Cindy Pawlcyn. Brace yourself, Napa!)

They say food brings friends and family together, and if the friendships that have come out of this genius idea of my sister’s are any indication, it’s true. We call ourselves a cookbook club but it is so much more than that. We’ve bonded over so many other things besides food: woodworking, medical emergencies, teen angst, kids leaving for college… But it started when all of us sat around the table together and ate a really good meal.

If you’re curious, the list of cookbooks we covered can be found here.

Spicy Baked Chicken Wings
Adapted from Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook by Tanya Holland
Makes about 20 wings
Her recipe is about perfect. The only thing I would do to improve it is to marinate the wings in buttermilk before baking.

Ingredients
vegetable oil for the baking sheets
4 pounds whole chicken wings or 3 pounds trimmed wings
1 quart buttermilk (for marinating)
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp sauce from canned chipotle chilies in adobo
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
2 Tbsp Crystal hot sauce
2/3 cup honey

Directions
If using whole wings, separate the sections of chicken wings at the joints, discarding or saving the wing tip portion for another use. Place the wings in a large bowl, and cover them with buttermilk making certain to coat. Marinate for 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove wings from buttermilk and pat them dry. Discard the buttermilk.

Preheat the oven to 425º F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.

In a large bowl, combine the mustard, ginger, salt, black pepper, allspice, and cayenne.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chipotle sauce, Tabasco sauce, Crystal hot sauce, and honey, and bring to a simmer, about 5 minutes. (To make ahead, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Pour about half of the sauce into the large bowl with the dry spices, and stir until combined. (Reserve the remaining sauce in the pan.) Add the chicken wings and toss until the wings are evenly coated with the sauce.

Spread the chicken wings in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Be sure that the chicken wings have enough space between them to brown well on all sides. Bake for 25 minutes, then flip the wings, and bake for 25 minutes more, until the wings are cooked through and well browned.

Reheat the remaining sauce over medium heat until bubbling, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the hot wings to the bowl and toss until the wings are well coated with the sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(To make ahead, refrigerate the baked wings for up to 3 days. To reheat, spread the chilled wings on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes.)

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