One of my favorite adult outings is heading to the local pub for cheap beer and wings. For my birthday this year, my request was simple: Take me to the horse races, and then treat me to wing night at the pub! My kid also loves saucy, spicy, sticky chicken wings as much as I do which translates to a mealtime win for all but no one gets to go to the pub! Here's the thing though, getting pub grub right at home isn't always easy, especially given that what makes it taste so good is that it's usually coming straight out of an industrial size deep-fryer. Think potato skins, poutine, fish n' chips, and the aforementioned chicken wings. Back in the day when I'd attempt eat-in (baked) chicken wings they'd come out soggy with rubbery skin and absolutely nothing like what I was craving from the pub of the 35 cent each variety. Regardless of how much I played with the temperature of the oven or at what point I dressed the wings, I just couldn't get it right. While I do have a deep-fryer, I'm rarely (translate: never) inspired to pull it out, tolerate the fryer oil odour and least of all, deal with the clean-up. It's oven or bust. Introduce the Alton Brown method. The LIFE CHANGING Alton Brown method of cooking PERFECT, CRISPY, SAUCY, pub-style chicken wings. What's so miraculous about this method, you ask? Steam. Essentially, you steam cook the wings in order for excess fat to melt off (if only it were that easy, amiright?) and then you're left with skin that will easily crisp up once the wing hits a high-heat oven. Genius. Thank you, Alton! To take it up a notch, and why not, a remake of Earls' parmesan dip. This people, is eat-in pub grub done right.
For the Crispy Pub-Style Chicken Wings
Slightly adapted from Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings
Serves 4 peckishly or 2 ravenous adults + 4.75 year old
What you'll need:
- 14-16 chicken wings, doesn't matter if they're split or not
- 3 oz. melted butter
- ¼ c. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- 1-2 cloves minced garlic (to taste preference) + 3 cloves minced for Parm Dip (I say mince all at once, no need go through this step twice)
- 1 tbps. white vinegar
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
What to do:
- Preheat oven to 425° and adjust oven racks to ensure there's one in the middle of the oven.
- Prepare a large rimmed cookie sheet and cover well with aluminum foil (I do the aluminum foil for quick clean up), then lay paper towel across the bottom of the sheet on top of the foil.
- Find the saucepan that has the steamer basket and tight-fitting lid. Here you'll add a few inches of water to the saucepan, cover and bring this to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, split your chicken wings. I personally don't mind keeping the tips of the wings attached, but you could just as easily trim them and keep them for making stock at a later time.
- Once the water has come to a boil, working in batches, you'll want to lay your wings and drumsticks in the steamer basket. Cover pan and steam for 10 minutes. You don't want to overcrowd or overlap them as you'll want the steam to move well throughout the pan. As you work in batches, be sure to check your water levels as you don't want to boil your pot dry.
- After you've steamed off all of your chicken wings, you can either refrigerate them for up to an hour as you prepare your sides, or they can go straight into the oven. Here you'll just want to consider when to preheat your oven.
- Replace the paper towel with parchment paper and then space out your chicken wings on the pan. I like to give my wings a bit of space and avoid them from touching. Pro-tip: Don't skip this step, the chicken sticks relentlessly to the foil and as the chicken is so tender, as you go to turn the pieces you'll leave all but the bone stuck to the foil.
- Roast chicken wings for 20 minutes, turn wings over and cook for another 20 minutes.
- During the second interval of cook time, you can put together the wing sauce.
- In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, hot sauce, minced garlic, vinegar and salt. Set aside till wings are ready.
- Remove wings from the oven and toss them in the bowl with the prepared sauce. Serve immediately.
For the Earls (style) Parmesan Dip
This is a rough adaptation from the restaurant classic dip that is served with their chicken wings, and if you are in the know, always alongside their rosemary pan bread. While I've looked at various recipes online, I haven't landed on anything where exact measurements have yielded anything much better than my *rough* throw together method.
What you'll need:
- ⅓ c. sour cream
- ⅓ c. mayo
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. malt vinegar
- Pinch dried oregano
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
What to do:
- You can either throw all ingredients in a blender for a smoother dip, or mix by hand in a medium size bowl for a more textured dip. Adjust ingredients to taste preference. Pro-tip, when tasting dressings or dips, try and taste with whatever vessel is carrying the dip or dressing (i.e. have carrot sticks on hand or some washed lettuce), your tastebuds will interpret the flavors differently than if you just dunked your finger.