The humble chicken wing is so cheap—and so satisfying.
(And, come on: What self-respecting carnivore doesn’t like to gnaw a little meat off the bone every once in a while?)
Chicken wings are easy to make in the oven. You can bake a pan in under an hour (try 40 minutes). And because they’re on the bone, they’re harder to dry out.
All good reasons to put them on your weeknight menu.
These chicken wings are hot, spicy, and sweet. They get a subtle heat from Aleppo chili flakes (totally my favorite, if you haven’t tried ’em) and a generous amount of ground ginger. Maple syrup and orange juice provide sweetness and tang. Sesame oil and hoisin sauce round them out with good, earthy undertones.
A few notes on ingredients.
Use real maple syrup
Not “pancake syrup,” which is mostly sugar and artificial maple flavor. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be the real deal.
What is hoisin sauce, anyway?
Good question. Hoisin sauce is a common Chinese dipping sauce. It’s made from fermented soybean paste, garlic, red chilis, and sweet potato.
It’s salty, sweet, and earthy all at once—and is a great way to add lot of flavor to a dish with very little effort. Because it has plenty of salt, don’t add any extra salt to the wings until you taste them.
Food safety, chicken, and reusing marinade as basting liquid
Alrighty, I know a lot of you probably know this. But in case you don’t, here’s the deal with raw chicken and marinades.
The minute you put raw chicken into your marinade, the marinade gets raw chicken cooties. All of it. Every last bit of it.
Now, if you cook the chicken in the marinade from the start, that’s just fine.
What’s NOT safe is to take the leftover marinade that the chicken was sitting in, and baste your bird with it as it cooks. You run the risk of getting sick from the chicken juice in the marinade if it doesn’t cook through (that’s cross contamination at its finest).
How do you get around that?
Before you marinate the chicken, reserve about a quarter of a cup of the marinade. Pour the rest of it over the chicken. Baste the chicken with the quarter cup of marinade that you saved.
Your chicken will have a beautiful glaze on it—and you won’t poison your friends. Everybody wins.
The same principle applies to any marinade that you put on raw meat. Just save a little before you contaminate it.
How many chicken wings will serve four people?
Count on about 4 wings per person, or about half a pound of wings. You do the math based on how meaty the wings are and how hungry your dinner crew is.
As a general rule, I usually say that 4 pounds of wings will serve about 8 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course.
Ginger & Maple Glazed Chicken Wings
3 Tbls. ground ginger
1 Tbls. ground garlic
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tsp. Aleppo chili flakes
4 lbs. chicken wings
2-3 green onions, sliced, for garnish
Serves about 8 as an appetizer, or about 4 for dinner
Make the marinade for the chicken wings
Put the ginger and garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them together.
Pour the maple syrup into the spices.
Add the hoisin sauce. (Scrape out the measuring cup with a spatula so you get it all. It’s sticky stuff.)
Pour in the orange juice.
Add the sesame oil.
(For sesame oil, I like Kadoya brand best.)
Toss in the Aleppo chili flakes. If you don’t have any Aleppo (wonderful Turkish pepper, Penzey’s sells it), you can totally substitute regular red pepper flakes.
If you do this, though, cut the amount in half. California crushed red pepper is about twice as hot as Aleppo chili flakes.
Whisk the marinade together. It may take a minute to incorporate all the maple syrup. When it’s uniform in consistency, taste it and make sure you like it. If you think it needs something (more pepper, etc.), correct the seasoning until you’re happy.
Reserve some marinade for basting
Measure out about a quarter of a cup of the marinade. Set it aside to baste the chicken as it cooks. (See food safety note above.)
Marinate the chicken wings
The longer the wings marinate, the more flavor will penetrate into the wings. If you have time, let them soak overnight. If you don’t, they’ll still be really good if you make them right away.
A quick note on chicken wing tips.
They can burn slightly in the oven because they’re so thin. This doesn’t bother me one bit. The rest of the chicken tastes great, and I don’t know anyone who eats the very tippy tips of the wings. If this bothers you, whack the tips off with a cleaver before proceeding.
Put the chicken wings in a gallon-size zip-top bag.
Pour in the marinade.
Seal the bag up and smoosh the chicken around to distribute the marinade. If you have time to marinate them, pop it in the fridge. If not, to the ovens!
Bake the chicken wings
When you’re ready to make your wings, line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. (Double line it, if you want super easy clean up.)
Fish the chicken wings out of the bag. Let the wings drip a little. You want them to have some marinade on them, but not be swimming in it. Too much marinade, and they’ll sort of steam—and won’t get crispy.
Arrange them on the pan. (If they won’t all fit, just use an extra pan.)
Pop the pan into your preheated, 400-degree oven. Bake for about 20 minutes. Pull the pan out of the oven. Brush each wing with some of the reserved marinade. Pop the pan back into the oven for another 2o minutes.
And…voila! They should look about like this.
Serve and enjoy!
Serve the wings hot or at room temp, garnished with green onion.