Sunday, February 7, 2010

Baked or Fried? Wing Time!

Of course chicken wings are synonymous with the Super Bowl. And as you can see, I'm blogging during the game so you understand that my priorities are more about 'game day food' rather than the game itself.  On to the food.  A friend at work pointed me towards a posting on Serious Eats this week...baked or fried? was the question...and the answer for this blog turned out to be baked!  I thought I would modify my plans to include a baked vs. fried cookoff of spicy dry rub wings!

I have always enjoyed baked buffalo wings, I like the crispy skin.  Round 2 of  my recreation of Cheep Cheep Chicken's spicy dry rub wings was already on the schedule for tonight.  An Annapolis classic, Cheep Cheep Chicken used to be located in the Market House.  Since the Market House debacle a few years ago, it has relocated to the festival at Riva.  They serve an amazing wing that is seasoned with Old Bay.  The very old and wise proprietor of Cheep Cheep isn't likely going to give away the secret to me, a challenge! 

The first key to success, whether baked or fried, is GOOD QUALITY chicken wings...I like Bell and Evans - available at Whole Foods.  Recently I had a friend ask me why would I buy organic?  higher price, lower quality?  He was absolutely wrong.  Factory farming, whether it is produce or poultry, invites pathogens.   Once you have tasted a local, free range chicken you will wonder what you have been eating for so many years.  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed. 

My Version of Spicy Dry Rub Wings

20 wings (drumettes and other part :)
1 cup Old Bay seasoning
3 tablespoons cayanne pepper
all purpose flour

Begin by separating the wings - cut the drumette from the other part (I have no idea what that part is called) and get rid of the wing tip.  (or save it for stock - see my Italian Wedding Soup posting)  Mix the Old Bay and cayanne in a big bowl.  Adjust the amount of cayanne to taste.  Take 4 - 6 wing pieces at a time and toss them in the dry rub.  They should be fully covered.  Place the seasoned wings into a baking dish.  Repeat this for the rest of the wings.  Refrigerate (marinate!) for an hour.  Before cooking toss the wings in a generous amount of all purpose flour.  Shake off the excess flour before cooking.

To Bake:

Preheat your oven to 400.  Place a thin layer of veggie oil on a baking dish or cookie sheet if you have lots.  Place wings on the dish/sheet and toss with the oil. Cook for 30 minutes WITHOUT moving them!  This lets them get a crispy crust on one side.  Flip and cook for another 15 mins.  Serve!

To Fry

Preheat veggie oil (or peanut oil) to 375.  Cook the wings for 13 - 15 minutes (depending on the size of the wings).  Toss the cooked wings onto a cookie sheet with a paper towel.  Serve!

So the final verdict?  It is so tough to say but after careful consideration, the juicy meat of the fried wing makes it the winner!  The crispy crust on the baked wings was delicious, better than the fried wings...but the flavor and juiciness of the fried wing is unbeatable.  In the picture below, fried on the left, baked on the right.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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