Sweet & Spicy Chicken Wings

Let’s start with the kitchen update: it’s still not finished.

I’ll be honest. I’ve watched enough HGTV remodel shows that I should know nothing ever goes right or on schedule, but the optimistic side of me thought maybe we could bang this kitchen out in a couple weeks. Well, the optimistic side of me is dead now.

We had a damaged cabinet to reorder and a lot of rainy days causing rescheduling. I have my oven and fridge, thank goodness, but can I please tell you how unpleasant washing dishes in a bathroom has been for the past 3 weeks? I will be crying tears of joy when my new farmhouse sink and dishwasher get installed.

Venting aside, I know all this hard work and inconvenience will pay off in a big way. I’m so excited to get it up and running, because I have a lot of recipes I am itching to try out.

Despite our house being a work in progress, we decided to have a couple of friends over to watch the Super Bowl a little while ago. When you have no kitchen and the big game is on, the only logical solution is to set up your deep fryer in the backyard and make wings.

When I made these yesterday, there was a sudden change in the weather. “I’m fryyyyin’ in the rain, just fryyyyin’ in the rain…”

We already had buffalo chicken dip on the menu, so I wanted to stray from the traditional hot wing flavor. I grabbed a bottle of sweet and sour sauce from the grocery store thinking it might be good, but at home I realized it was way too sweet, so I got creative. I threw all this extra stuff in from my fridge and panty (which right now is a bunch of bins in the front bedroom) and the sauce turned out better than expected.

The outcome of the game wasn’t great, but at least the wings were.

I guess you could say I…. winged it. I didn’t take notes that day, but I managed to recreate the magic for today’s post. Let’s get started!

  • 6-8 whole chicken wings, split into wingettes & drumettes (12-16 pieces)
  • oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup pickling liquid*
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sweet & sour sauce (I used this one)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lime, zest & juice
  • sliced green onions (optional)
  • pickled red onions (optional)

*I used the liquid from my pickled red onion garnish. If you do not have anything pickled to borrow the juice from, increase the water to 2 cups and the salt to 2 Tbsp

  1. Stir salt into the water until dissolved. Combine with 3/4 cup of pineapple juice (save the rest) and the pickling liquid. Pour over the wings in a large glass bowl or container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for 2-6 hours.
  2. Heat oil in a fryer or a large pot to 375 degrees. Discard the brining liquid and place the wings in large ziploc bag full of flour. Seal the bag and toss the wings around until they are evenly coated. Fry 6 to 8 pieces at a time in the oil for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, combine the sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime zest, lime juice and the leftover 1/4 cup of pineapple juice. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to marry all the ingredients.
  4. When the wings are cooked, drain them on paper towels before tossing them in the sweet and spicy sauce. Serve immediately, topped with thinly sliced green onions and pickled red onion, if desired.

If you are having a large party, you obviously need to double (or triple) this recipe. In that case, you can keep cooked wings in the oven on the warming setting while you fry the rest of the them. Also, I highly recommend getting some of those deep aluminum foil pans from the store to carry these babies back and forth in. It makes clean up so much easier, especially if you pour the sauce over the wings in one of those instead of another bowl getting messy.

The first time I made these for the Super Bowl, I didn’t add any onions at the end. I put out some blue cheese for people to dip with, but honestly, I wasn’t feeling it. When I was gathering what I needed for this second trial, I happened to notice I had some green onions to use, so I tried those first. YUM!

I could use a heart-shaped eye emoji right about now.

Then I got crazy and decided to throw some pickled onions on there too, and oh my goodness. The two kinds of onion added another level of texture, aroma and freshness to cut through the sticky, rich sauce. Maybe I’m the only one who’s this in love with pickled veggies, but if you have been following me for a while, you know I always have something pickled in the fridge. Red onions, carrots & celery cut into matchsticks, sweet peppers, hot peppers… all my leftovers end up in a jar.

Here is a great guide to quick pickling if you are interested in trying it out! It’s super easy and then you always have awesome stuff to top off a dish (especially sandwiches).

If you are not into deep-frying or don’t want to deal with mess, you could always bake the wings. Frying really get the wings crispy fast though, which locks in all the flavor. Also, when you are smothering something sauce, I don’t see the point in adding a bunch of seasoning to the coating. Simple flour is all you need.

Wings straight out of the fryer, looking good enough to eat without sauce.

Brining is the other key to having yummy, juicy wings. Even if it’s only a salt water brine, do it. I added the sweet pineapple juice and vinegar-y pickle juice to impart more flavor and because the sugars and acids would tenderize the wings. I swear, when I bit into a couple of them, I got this amazing burst of pineapple right before the spice kicked in.

I’m not going to lie, wings aren’t the easiest, breeziest thing to execute. It takes a long time and some patience. You’re going to make a mess. But once you start eating these, and reap the benefits of all that hard work, it’s worth it.

It’s a little bit like remodeling a kitchen that way.

Boom, mic drop. Tied the wings right back to beginning of my post. Too bad I don’t take myself seriously enough to write a three paragraph poetic metaphor about chicken and kitchens. You’re not here for that anyways, you were here for these:

I’m so glad to be posting recipes again. I’ll be back in a couple weeks with more food and more updates! See you then.

Game of Wings

If there’s one thing I like as much as cooking, it’s HBO’s Game of Thrones. Ever heard of it? I have a feeling you have. I’ve never really done a theme post like this, but a dear friend of mine suggested on Twitter that I come up with something for the finale. Challenge accepted!

I started by looking up medieval foods, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. Then I got more specific and searched for Game of Thrones foods and found a list of every meal mentioned in the book series and show. It was interesting, but if you are a fan, you can imagine that most of these meals were extravagant feasts. (Or a stallion’s heart, blech!) Now I don’t mind a big feast for a party, but watching GoT on Sunday night is something my husband and I set aside as time for us.

Then I started to think that instead of eating something the characters would eat, why not use the characters as inspirations for flavors? My husband had joked that we should just eat big turkey legs like at Medieval Times, and all of a sudden it clicked. Wings.

We love going out for chicken wings, but I don’t usually make them at home. I had played around a couple weeks ago with making buffalo wings and they came out great, so this time around I decided to try and come up with my own flavors. Three flavors actually. One of the best things about Game of Thrones is there are badass female characters, so here are my tributes to three of my favorites.

Cersei Lannister – Golden Garlic Parmesan Wings

I started off with 8 wings, which I had marinated in a brine of salt water (like sea water salty), with about a tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder and white pepper. I also added 1/2 a cup of beer, because Cersei does love a drink. She favors wine, but I choose a golden wheat beer to get that alcohol element in there. Make sure all the wings are submerged in the brine before refrigerating overnight.

I coated the wings in flour and fried them up in canola oil heated to 375 degrees. You can do this in a large pot on the stove, but I got my deep fryer out for this project. After frying for about 8-10 minutes, until they were cooked through and crispy golden brown on the outside, I tossed them in a sauce made from a 1/2 cup of melted butter, a 1/2 cup of Parmesan and 1 Tbsp of garlic powder.

My inspiration came from the fact that the Lannisters have a thing for gold, from their armor to their blonde hair. The garlic gives it a strong, punchy flavor without any heat, which is a little like Cersei. She is usually cool and collected, but definitely not to be ignored.

Sansa Stark – Sweet Lemon Ginger Wings

I started with 8 wings again, in the salt water brine with a tsp each of ground ginger, lemon pepper, tumeric and brown sugar. They marinated overnight, were dredged in flour and fried up the same way as before.For the sauce I used 1/4 cup of melted butter, 2 Tbsps of brown sugar and 2 tsps of ground ginger. I also whisked in the juice from a lemon and a splash of soy sauce.

Although this does have kind of an Asian flair to it, hello, sweet ginger is basically a description of Sansa herself. She is Winterfell’s resident redhead with a kind heart. It’s also mentioned a couple times that her favorite food is lemon cakes, hence the addition of the lemon pepper and juice.

Daenerys Targaryan- Spicy Cayenne Dragon Wings

Again, 8 wings overnight in the salt water brine. This time I added two Tbsps of hot sauce and a tsp each of cayenne, paprika and garlic powder. They were coated in flour and fried, then tossed in a sauce made from 1/4 cup of melted butter, 1/8 cup of hot sauce (whatever your favorite is, I used a Louisiana style hot sauce), 2 tsp of cayenne and 2 tsps of garlic.

Obviously the mother of dragons is going to have the hottest sauce on the plate. She’s got three fire breathing dragons and Dany herself can’t be harmed by flames. There’s not much else to explain! If you don’t want it to be too spicy, skip the extra cayenne in the sauce.

Extra Tips!

  • To keep things simple, you could just use plain salt water and brine all the wings together. The sauces will give them plenty of flavor, but adding spices infuses it right into the meat.
  • If you do try to make multiple flavors at once and marinate them separately, make sure you don’t mix them up! They all look the same once they are floured and fried. You will also have to fry them seperately, but you can keep the first batches warm in the oven while you finish up the rest of the wings.

OK, you don’t really need to be a Game of Thrones fan to enjoy these wings. I served mine up with celery, carrot sticks and a side of blue cheese dressing. (It is the superior side for wings, not ranch, in my opinion.) I didn’t even dip them that much, because I was really digging the sauces. The spicy cayenne was the only one that needed a little cool down!

So whether you are sitting down to watch Game of Thrones in a couple days or just hanging with friends, these wings are all so different you will certainly have something for everyone. If any GoT fans out there can think of other character inspired flavors, please share! The countdown is on for the finale!