When super bowl season swings around, we all start yearning for buffalo wings. I’m not even sure all of us (or maybe even half of us?) watch the Super Bowl, but the reach of that giant sports event is significant enough that it puts the thought in our heads.
What can we say? In November, we start getting the urge to cook as big a bird as our ovens can accommodate. In December, we look to Woodland Pork to offer up delicious hams that weigh more than the youngest kid in the family. In February, we go small—wanting poultry in an easier to handle form that’s perfect for eating at a bar or in front of the TV.
The heart wants what the heart wants. And so, here is our recipe. We like ‘em hot and sweet. . . and baked and crispy and by the dozens.
for panko baked chicken wings
3 dozen chicken wing parts (drummettes and flats)
3 cups flour
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
16 oz. panko (we like Kikkoman for its large size)
5 eggs (beaten)
for buffalo sauce
1½ cups salted butter
1 cup Frank’s RedHot Sauce
¾ cup honey
2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
2 TBSP MadHouse apple cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic scape salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne powder
Baking Panko-breaded Wings:
If you have purchased broken-down wings, good on ya. If not, you should break them down, cutting off their tips (reserving those in a freezer bag for future stock. Never waste good cartilage rich wing tips) and then dividing each into the drummette and the flat.
An hour or more before you plan to cook your wings, mix together your flour, paprika, chipotle powder, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin in a large bowl. Reserve half of the mix in a large chili bowl and set aside for later dredging. Dredge all of your wing parts and lay them out, not touching one another on a baking sheet or two. Cover the sheets with plastic and slip them in the fridge.
When you’re ready to start baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and rub with a TBSP or two of vegetable oil. Set up your breading station—setting out the reserved bowl of dredging flour, a bowl containing the 5 beaten eggs, and a bowl of the panko in such a way that creates an easy assembly line with the end location being the baking sheets.
Dredge each wing piece in the flour, then the egg (making sure it’s coated but letting excess egg run back into the bowl), then in the panko to coat, then set on the baking sheet. Allow a quarter inch space around each wing to allow for even cooking. We usually cook both sheets of wings at the same time—one on an oven shelf set in the middle of the oven, and one on a shelf set directly beneath that. Mid-way through cooking, we swap and rotate the sheets between shelves. They should bake for a total of 25-30 minutes.
When the wings come out of the oven, immediately start shifting them into the sauce to coat. Tongs or a large slotted spoon work brilliantly for the handling of hot hot hot wings fresh from the oven.
Melt a small pat of butter in a sauce pan on medium-high heat. Once melted add all dry ingredients—scape salt, paprika, cayenne—and stir constantly for a minute until the spices have bloomed and are very aromatic. Turn the heat to low and add all of the other ingredients. Once the butter has fully melted, mix the sauce well and taste. Add any additional ingredients to suit your taste—more hot sauce? More honey? A little more salt? Then set aside until the wings are ready. If the sauce solidifies during the wait, a quick re-melt over low heat should do.
Putting it all together:
If necessary, reheat your sauce and note that the sauce will not hold together—it separates very quickly. So, before any step of pouring it or dropping wings in it to coat, make sure to give it a good 5-10 second whisk. It’s a good idea to whisk it several times between dipping rounds of additional wings.
Pour half the sauce in a good-sized metal mixing bowl, then toss a few cooked wings in the sauce at a time. The dip in the sauce should last about 10-15 seconds for each wing—enough time to fully coat and let the sauce sink in a bit, but not so long that you let all of that crispy baked panko coating go soggy. Remove from the sauce to your serving plate. Repeat, and add more sauce as needed, until all of your wings are coated, stacked high and ready to be eaten.
Serve with blue cheese dip, celery, carrots, and a whole roll of paper towels—these hummers are messy.