7 tips you need to know to make crispy, irresistible chicken wings

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Chicken wings are the quintessential party food. They can be eaten while mingling, they're delicious, and you can create a sauce for everyone and let guests dress them just before eating, if you choose. But there's more to cooking chicken wings than just throwing them into an oven or deep-fryer.
Cook chicken wings incorrectly and there are a number of things that can go wrong. They can become dried out, soggy, flavorless - or the opposite of that, so hot no one can eat them - or the worst of the worst, not completely cooked. But before you throw out the idea of cooking these at home yourself and ordering them from a local pizza joint, there are a few things you should know. And with these tips, you can create the perfect, crispiest wings for game day - or any other day!
1. Brine the meat
You can really marinate any kind of meat. But meat with bones, like chicken wings, truly becomes special after it's sat in a brine. Brining adds weight to the meat, about 6 percent. Then as the meat cooks and shrinks, brining helps it to only lose about 7 percent of its pre-soaked weight. Consider that meat that isn't brined loses about 10% of its weight and you can see the difference it makes. Brining adds weight, and that weight comes in the form of moisture. When cooking chicken wings, or any other meat, after brining, it retains more moisture making it even more moist when it's finished cooking.
A simple brine really just contains enough water to cover the meat and one or two cups of salt. Sugar can also be added; about half the amount of salt and other flavorings too including lemon slices, rosemary, peppercorns, bay leaves and more. But for chicken wings, salt and water should be enough. Leave the chicken wings in the brine for at least 12 hours and up to 24, and dry them completely before continuing on with preparation.
2. Marinate the meat
While brining will infuse a little bit of flavor into the meat, there's another way to get big flavor of those chicken wings - marinate them! After they've been dried after their brine, toss them in a little bit of hot sauce and melted butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the wings sit on the counter for about 40 minutes. Wrapping the bowl in plastic wrap will not only keep things like other spices from falling into the bowl, it will also keep bacteria out.
And keeping the chicken wings on the counter will also bring them up to room temperature safely. When chicken wings, or any meat for that matter, is brought up to room temperature before cooking, it will cook more evenly without drying the chicken wings out.
3. Steam the meat
A lot of people are confused when they first learn that many of their favorite chicken wings are cooked twice. But there's good reason for it and it's similar to why French fries are also cooked twice in most restaurants. Things simply get much crispier when they're cooked twice! Unlike French fries however, instead of deep-frying chicken wings at a low temperature and then cooking them again at a higher temperature, chicken wings should be steamed before their final cook.
Steaming chicken wings melts their fatty skin ever so slightly, which means it won't turn rubbery when cooked. Plus, steaming chicken wings will completely cook them through so the final cook is really just to get the skin crispy. And during that final cook, or when serving them to your guests, you won't have to worry about whether or not they're completely cooked through.
To steam chicken wings, lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet with high rims. Place one cup of water on the baking sheet, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and then bake in the oven at about 350 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes. When done, remove and let the wings cool before finishing cooking. If you have a steamer basket, wings can also be steamed this way, steaming them for about 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Season the chicken wings
If there's one thing that's important when cooking, it's remembering to season, season, season. Seasoning the meat brings out its flavor and will do a world of good for your wings. Once they're finished steaming just wait until they're cool and dry and then toss them with a generous amount of salt and pepper. You won't believe how much more flavorful they turn out to be!
5. Coat the chicken wings
To get super crispy wings, coat them first with baking powder. Baking powder is the ingredient that infuses cakes and cookies with air, and makes them lighter and fluffier. And it sort of works the same way with chicken wings. By adding baking powder, it breathes air into the crust that's going to form with the skin of the chicken wing and make it airier and crispier. And that's one of the biggest secrets to getting the perfect chicken wing! Just toss them lightly in the baking powder just as you would flour, shake off the excess and continue cooking as you wish.
6. Deep-fry or broil
Deep-frying is the surefire way to get the crispiest chicken wings possible. But many people get intimidated about the idea of deep-frying at home and, when there's a big party going on, you don't want to be stuck in the kitchen while all the fun is taking place. When deep-frying just isn't an option, you can broil the chicken wings instead. Whatever way you decide to cook your chicken wings, cook them for about three minutes before flipping and cooking for three more minutes on the other side.
7. Add butter for milder sauce
Many people take all the time needed to make perfect chicken wings but then ruin them by just dousing them in hot sauce right out of the bottle. This will turn the chicken wings into what's known as the suicide kind; and while some people can handle that kind of heat, not everyone can. To lessen the heat just a little, toss that hot sauce with some melted butter. The more butter you add, the milder the sauce will be.
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