Eating chicken wings is and always has been somewhat of a personal moment for me.
Chicken wings will always provide me with a comfort for the days when elegant eating is not my priority objective. Well… honestly speaking, it never is, but sometimes I just want to dive five head first into it. Designed to be eaten in a tracksuit with the grace of a caveman, chicken wings are by no means an elegant meal.
But I find myself ordering them whenever I see them. Once when curating some of my favourite recipes for a project, a friend of mine told me that I have the appetite of a southern American grandmother. I told her she was ridiculous, as I licked my thumb and continued flicking through my favourite recipes for mac and cheese, seafood, hot sauces, ribs and of course, chicken wings.
And while I never want to steer too far away from the tried and tested templates that I know and love, I must admit that this particular recipe came to be 100% by accident. When discussing coating chicken, Sharon, a very good friend of mine (who also encouraged me to set up this website) told me she sometimes uses cornflakes to coat her chicken. I’ve read many recipes for cornflake coated chicken and decided it was for me, so I headed to the shop.
It’s worth noting I was hungover and devastated and completely forgot she said cornflakes. I roamed the aisles thinking ‘what the hell was it she coated those damn chicken pieces in again?’ and saw digestive biscuits. I thought ‘sure… that makes sense’. Got home, marinated my chicken as I usually do, crushed up the biscuits and got to cooking.
It was the best mistake I ever made.
The coating on the chicken is mainly there to give a flavourful veneer with a crunchy bite, and when you think about it, it makes sense. Digestive biscuits have such a sweet, malty smokiness to them and provide such a perfect crumb, it is so perfect, I promise. I pep the biscuit mix up because I can’t help myself, but it’s all the better for it.
If you love chicken wings, I urge you to try this and not look at me sideways for tampering with a classic. I still season the wings to within a inch of their lives and I do soak my wings in a hot sauce and buttermilk mix, you just need to hold my hand and jump with me for the biscuits.
I opted to roast the chicken. Yes – by ALL means – do fry these if you feel you want to. It’s just that I live in a high rise apartment block and I really can’t shake my fear of frying things in deep oils. I’ll overcome this fear someday, I promise.
Before you do anything, we MUST season the chicken wings. However many bird wings you have, you’ll still need a big bowl.
Scatter in some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Rustle the wings around – I just use my damn hands – and make sure the wings are evenly coated.
Now cover the wings with buttermilk (or yogurt if you can’t get buttermilk) and then pour in a good, hefty amount of hot sauce, I use Frank’s. You may notice I’m not using measurements here, and it’s purpouseful because it’s dependent on how many wings you have. Plus I’ve made this so often on autopilot that even if I wanted to give measurements I’d need to reverse engineer the recipe and I’m nackered… email me if you want specifics (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Let the wings marinade in their bowl, I like to go for 24 hours covered in the fridge, but if you can’t manage that, a few hours will do.
When you’re ready to go, preheat the oven to 200C and get your chicken out on the countertop to come to room temperature.
Put a stack of digestive biscuits in food processor and process to a fine crumbly mound of dust. Or fling them in a sealed ziplock bag and fix any life related frustrations by bashing them with a rolling pin. Once they’re nice and dusty, put the crumbs into a shallow bowl.
Drop in a heaped teaspoon full of paprika, a heaped teaspoon of cumin, a tablespoon of baking powder and some salt and black pepper.
Using a fork (or I vulgarly just use my fingers) mix the spices into the digestive crumbs.
I find this to be quite an aggressive approach to cooking but I love it. Bashing biscuits, kneading powders, smothering wings… please don’t cook this chicken in a fit of rage otherwise you’ll end up punching your fridge.
Grab some chicken wings and individually dip into into the biscuit mix.The glue-like gooeyness of the spicy buttermilk will ensure that the powdery mixture will stick to the wings. I am not one for subtlety so I was getting right in there with this part. Every crevice of this poor bird was getting lifted, prodded and turned in the powder mixture just so that I was getting something tasty with every single bite.
I am that guy.
Once evenly coated with the powder ingredients, place the cuts on a baking tray. I use disposal foil ones because washing be damned. I sometimes like to line or grease a tray though to make scooping them out of the tray a lot easier!
Place the oven for about 30 minutes but then cranked up the heat to 220 for roughly another 10 to ensure that the coat gets all crispy.
Turn the lights off, grab your favourite hot sauce, curl up on the sofa with your partner and rip the wings apart with your bare hands and teeth caveman style.
If you manage not to burn your mouth because you’ve eaten them so hastily from the oven, you’re a better person than I am.