Skillet Fried Chicken Wings

January 30, 2014 § 6 Comments


As Superbowl fervor has grown and game day snack recipe ideas are trumpeted across the land, I cannot get my mind off of chicken wings.  I have no idea how football and chicken wings became so dearly intertwined, but they certainly are and we have been hearing about wings nonstop for the last month.  How could I not fall prey to this tempation? Two weeks ago I made a batch of chicken wings that was very well received.  They were marinated, baked, then broiled and they were a fine, healthful rendition of hot wings.  But my itch, it was not scratched.  My true desire was to fry wings.  So inconvenient, so smelly, so time consuming.  Today, as I type I have a slight sheen of grease on my forehead, my hair smells like fry oil, and I have a smile on my face.  Beside me sits a sheet tray with row upon row of beautiful fried chicken wings, cooling.  I haven’t even eaten these wings yet and I know it was totally worth the trouble.

Sometimes we cook to relax, to recall, or to meditate.  For me, frying chicken is all of those things – the ultimate in comfort cooking.  You need to stay right there, stand by your stove and watch the oil bubble and the chicken turn golden. You can’t walk away and help the kid get that thing down from that place, or write an email.  Must stay with chicken.  The sound of the gurgling oil is kind of mesmerizing, and when you lift the chicken from the pan, if all has gone well, it looks just like store bought. I find that strangely satisfying.  For years my husband has tried to talk me out of frying chicken at home.  We have a few very decent fried chicken joints in our neighborhood, why bother going through all of this effort? Our little house smells like a fry basket by the time I’m done, and we have to open the windows, and close off the bedrooms. But I will not be dissuaded.  Where is the love in fried chicken that somebody else made? Accept this chicken as a token of my love, light a scented candle and quit yer moaning.

I have honed my chicken frying technique after many years of attempts, and now I realize I make it just like my grandma did.  I certainly took the long way round to get to this place, but here I am.  First, I only use wings; they fry much more quickly and the skin to meat ratio is just perfect. Second, I pan fry the chicken in an iron skillet. I can’t pretend this is about health, but using less fat might be beneficial. At the very least it’s less messy.  Third, I let the chicken cool to room temperature before eating it.  I just love not-hot fried chicken.  In this recipe I’ve added rice flour to the mix, for added crisp.

Skillet Fried Chicken Wings

Yield: 24 wings

24 chicken wings

3 C buttermilk

4 C all-purpose flour

1 C rice flour

3 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoons ground pepper

3 teaspoons garlic powder

3 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne

6 C frying oil (canola, vegetable or peanut)

1. Trim the tips off of the wings and discard, or save them in the freezer to add to chicken stock another day.  Add the wings and buttermilk to a bowl.  Let the chicken soak in the buttermilk at room temperature for one hour.

2. Heat three cups of the oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  The oil should be about two inches deep.  I like to have two fry pans going at once – you’ll be done in half the time.  If you’re using one skillet, save the remaining oil to replace the first batch halfway through frying.  Heat the oil to 375 degrees; it will be shimmering, but not smoking.  If you sprinkle a bit of flour in the pan and it bubbles vigorously, you’re there.

3. Add the flours and seasonings to a large paper bag. Close the bag tightly and give it a shake to mix the ingredients well. Use tongs to remove four chicken wings from the buttermilk, let them drip a bit, and drop them into the bag. Give a good shake, remove the wings and arrange them in the skillet skin side down. You don’t want to crowd the skillet – make sure each wing has some space.  After four or five minutes, flip the wings and cook for another four minutes.  You may have to fuss with the timing a bit, every stove is different. The line between perfectly golden and burnt is treacherously thin.

4. Remove the wings from the oil and drain them on a rack set over a sheet tray for ten minutes.  Wait a minute or two so that the oil can come back up to temperature, then repeat the process until all the wings are fried.  If you’re using one skillet, replace the oil halfway through to keep things tasty.  Serve warm, or at room temperature, or chilled from the fridge.  It’s all good.

§ 6 Responses to Skillet Fried Chicken Wings

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