In How Do You Take Yours?, The Takeout solicits staff and outside expertise for secret tips on improving one dish.
Having a knockout chicken-wing recipe is the ultimate in bragging rights, since chicken wings are usually consumed at big social gatherings. (Though we will never fault you for some solo wing indulgence.) As all your friends, family, and coworkers huddle ’round the game, someone just happens to mention how good your wings are, which sets off a veritable domino of compliments. Two years later, you’re the most sought-after party guest. Ready to win friends and influence people? Start here, then tell us your wing secrets in the comments.
Christopher Collins, chef/owner, Wally’s American Gastropub in Scottsdale, Arizona
The best sauce is a perfect mixture of spicy and tangy. We mix our own hot sauce, Topher’s Angry Sauce, with a little clarified butter. Melted butter has fat solids which can make the sauce a little cloudy-looking. Clarified butter makes the sauce stands out as smooth and shiny.
Corey Grupe, corporate chef, Timothy O’Toole’s Pub Group in Chicago
Start by brining your wings the day before or early that morning using water, salt, and soy. For the sauce, we start with Frank’s original hot sauce, then add garlic, Sweet Baby Ray’s, black pepper, cayenne, habaneros, jalapenos, ghost pepper sauce, more garlic, butter, and some IPA (or stout, your choice). Deep fry or bake the wings until they reach 165 degrees. Make sure you only add a little sauce—it really goes a long way.
Nicholas Elmi, executive chef/partner, Royal Boucherie in Philadelphia
Toss your wings with black garlic BBQ sauce: Just roast chipotle and habanero chiles, blend together with cider vinegar, add brown sugar, ketchup, dijon, and black garlic, then purée. Perfect balance of spicy and sweet.
Ben Ellsworth, chef, The Royal American in Charleston, South Carolina
We call our wings “Magic Wings”: We liberally season the wings with kosher salt and white pepper and let them sit overnight in the fridge; then fry them the first time at 300 degrees for six minutes. Then—and it sounds weird—but we freeze them completely. Freezing pushes extra moisture out of the wings’ skin, so they get incredibly crispy later. We return the wings to fridge and thaw them completely. When guests are ready, re-fry the wings at 350 degrees until crispy. The skin should shatter like glass; that’s when they’re done. We immediately toss them in our mind-bending Chicken Magic Rub, which is a blend of Chinese five-spice, garlic, ginger and toasted Sichuan peppercorns.
Ricardo Camacho, executive chef, Añejo in New York City
I make an awesome cilantro-buttermilk dipping sauce for my Mexican wings that I serve each year on the Super Bowl. The sauce is a combination of buttermilk, mayo, Mexican crema, scallions, cilantro and salt. I use chipotle powder, guajillo chiles, and tabasco in the marinade, so the cilantro buttermilk sauce really cools the wing down nicely.
Damon Workman, executive chef, Cantina Laredo
Your sauce only needs four ingredient: Honey, gold tequila, Sriracha, and dried chipotle peppers. Reconstitute the dried chipotles with the tequila and puree, then add to the honey and Sriracha. Toss the wings to coat—it works best with fried wings.
Jaime Young, executive chef/partner, Sunday In Brooklyn in Brooklyn, New York
One of my favorite ways to eat wings is with a pickled chili wing sauce: Just take 2 cups of pickled red chilis, 3 tablespoons each of lime juice and fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of palm sugar and combine everything in a blender. Coat your wings and enjoy.
AJ Walker, chef de cuisine, Publican Anker in Chicago
First we salt the wings and soak them in buttermilk for at least 12 hours before dredging and baking. Then we fry the wings. In a bowl, we coat them in a glaze made from honey, fish sauce, burnt chili powder, and dill. We top it off with a salad of basil and mint and serve with a yogurt sauce.
Josiah Citrin, chef/owner Mélisse and Charcoal Venice in Los Angeles
I use a chimichurri sauce for my wings. An easy adaption for home cook is combing chopped herbs (thyme, parsley and oregano), garlic, cider vinegar, and oil. Marinate the wings in the sauce for 2 1/2 hours and then grill the wings on low heat.