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.

My Favorite Kitchen Toys, Part 2

It has been so long since I last posted. I’m at my family’s home in Massachusetts prepping for my wedding (under 2 weeks away, yikes!) and time is just flying. I’ve been so busy it’s been hard to keep up, but I decided I needed to take a break, relax and write a little. So it’s time for the second installment of my favorite kitchen toys

Today it’s two totally different gadgets. One is big, messy and only for special occasions and the other is small, simple and used often in my house. It’s the deep fryer and the spiralizer!

Let’s start small with the spiralizer. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about healthy pasta alternatives and also posted a recipe, both featuring zucchini noodles. That’s definitely what I use this tool for the most. I also love it for making fresh slaw, cutting veggies uniformly for salads and stir frys, and for potatoes… I’ll get back to the potatoes.

The spiralizer I have is plastic and retails for about $25. It’s kind of a pain in the butt to clean because it has to be done by hand, but it does come with three blade options, and so far, it’s done its job well.

Someday I’d like to invest in the Kitchenaid attachment for my mixer, but that retails for around $100. The advantage would be it having more blade options, it would take up less cabinet space and it’s metal, so dishwasher safe. Not to hate on the one I bought. It’s still fun to use and I pull it out about once a week for one thing or another.

Next is the deep fryer. I got this for Christmas a few years ago, and have to say, it’s a lot of fun. We pull this out only a few times a year, because it can be kind of a mess and a hassle to clean up. Mine retails for around $60, which isn’t too bad considering this is not an every day tool.

Usually this gadget comes out because I love to make fried chicken. You can always pan fry on the stove top, but with a fryer like this you can actually cook a whole chicken (broken down) at one time. Here’s some legs and wings from last time:

Oil tempature is a key factor and it’s a lot easier to monitor on a digital fryer than using a thermometer in a pan. Remember to always use canola, vegetable or peanut oil because of the high smoking point. Don’t waste your olive oil on this.

Speaking of oil, you can always reuse. It takes a lot to fill up the fryer, so you don’t want to just dump it right away. My fryer has an airtight cover, so sometimes I just leave it for a few days and have some more fun with it. It’s important to strain in after each use though, you don’t want food particles left behind to burn. You can also store used, strained oil in the fridge to use later.

After fried chicken night, I plan for a couple more ways to use my fryer over the next week or so. Usually I go for snacks or sides, because unfortunately eating fried chicken three times a week isn’t the best meal plan. Since it has a generous basket, I love making things like onion rings or fries that would be harder to do in a pan. Which leads me to my last couple deep frying experiments…

I’m sitting around one day and I have oil, and I have potatoes, and then I see my spiralizer. The wheels start turning. Normally for fries, I just hand cut them into large wedges. But I decided to try making curly fries. It didn’t exactly work.

I used the thick spiral, the green one in the middle, but they still came out very thin a delicate. But I soaked them (always soak cut potatoes in water for at least 30 minutes before frying), let them dry thoroughly, and fried them anyway. I tossed them in some Cajun seasoning right after they came out and what I got was really more of a topping than a side dish. They were these crispy little potato straws what would be amazing on a burger, a piece of chicken or even on a salad for some crunch. Not what I intended, but definitely something to keep in mind for a dish down the road.

So then I tried putting another potato through the spiralizer, this time using the orange piece, the straight blade. I got this long, wide, thin ribbon and I realized this would be great as a potato chip.

I ripped it into (for lack of a better measurement) chip sized pieces. Soaked, dried, fried. Then I drizzled them with some truffle oil, garlic and Parmesan. WOW. Here’s a shot of the finished chips and the potato strings.

Not a bad little afternoon snack, huh? I love playing around in the kitchen and ending up with something delicious. I just wish my deep fryer was ready to go all the time. I do plan on trying the chip recipe baked in the oven to see how it goes for a more weeknight friendly side. I’ll let you know how that goes when I get back to California and my toys.

I’ll try to get back to a weekly schedule of blog posts again. I knew getting ready for a wedding was going to be a busy time, but I really underestimated the amount of downtime I would get. Between planning and catching up with old friends (and hitting up my favorite restaurants from my old stomping grounds), it’s a miracle I got this done!

Do any of you use these tools? What can you not live without in the kitchen? I’d love to hear. Until next time, happy cooking!