Party fare, be it for sports get togethers or other informal festive gatherings, has a unique set of serving and consuming criteria. The messy part of the prep and cooking should be completed before guests arrive, the food should be able to be consumed in a bite or two, and it should be finger food. Utensils are easily mislaid and dropped. But utensil-free nibblies do not preclude a saucy hors d’oeuvre. Hot wings fit this bill perfectly. And aside from the various intensities in chemical heat, there are almost endless possibilities for different sauces and rubs used in preparing the wings.
Hot wings can be a messy cooking process. Traditionally the wings are fried and then coated and roasted. Other methods include frying and just tossing in the sauce. This method is both messy and last minute: two activities that do not lend themselves well to entertaining. For our purposes, we’ll be roasting these wings from start to finish which will greatly cut down on the mess—no stovetop cooking. Adding a layer of non-stick aluminum foil will reduce cleanup to a few minutes, perfect for entertaining. Prep can be completed up to a week in advance for the sauce and rub and a day in advance for the wings themselves.
We can take the easy way out with the wings themselves. Bought pre-segmented and frozen, they are very convenient; they are, however, significantly more expensive. Fresh, whole chicken wings are cheap and slightly more versatile. For a slightly more upscale hot wing, consider leaving the drumette and wingette together. The tip should be removed as it has no edible chicken meat on it. If you choose to segment these wings, the tip can be cut off with little difficulty. To separate the wingette from the drumette, slice through the skin to the elbow joint. Bend the wing backward, dislocating the elbow joint and exposing the bones and cartilage. Slice between the bones being careful to avoid cutting through the cartilage on the drumette bone.
These wings also have the option of being coated in a wing rub before roasting or being left plain. Both options are delicious, but the rubbed wings have a bit more heat. The rub can be stored in a sealed container in a dark, dry place for weeks. It’s good on various cuts of pork and chicken so consider making this rub in bulk for use elsewhere. The ingredients for this rub are guidelines more or less. Ground or whole seeds are used in rubs that are exposed to direct heat. Leaf herbs will burn and are usually left out of rub recipes. Spice mixtures such as celery salt, seasoning salt and the like should be avoided since they all contain salt. Unlike a steak rub, this barbeque rub has a brown sugar base and shouldn’t have too much extra salt. We will be adding salt, and if all you have is onion salt, celery salt, garlic salt and the like, omit the salt from the recipe.
These wings are liable to fly away as quickly as you make them.
Cranberry Hot Wing Sauce
- 11.5 oz can cranberry juice concentrate
- ⅔ cups yellow prepared mustard
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup Crystal Hot Sauce
- 1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sauce has reduced and is slightly thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes whisking almost continuously.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cups paprika
- 2 tablespoons each of the following:
- kosher salt, sugar, ground coriander, ground mustard,
- dark chili powder, ground cumin, granulated garlic,
- granulated onion, celery seeds, fresh ground black pepper, Accent,
- 1 tablespoon each of ground cayenne and crushed red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.
- 5-10 pounds of fresh chicken wings, tipped and segmented, if desired
Preheat oven to 350F. Line half-sheet baking pans with aluminum foil. Coat segmented wings with bbq rub if desired. Arrange the wings on each pan in a single layer and not touching. Roast wings for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and turn wings over. Coat each wing with cranberry hot wing sauce. If you are roasting multiple pans, rotate the pans and change their level after they are coated with the sauce. Return the wings to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Arrange wings on a platter and lightly coat with additional hot wing sauce.
Allow the wings to rest for 15 minutes.