Wings are often a near-mandatory menu item for social gatherings, but they're finicky — never quite right from the oven, but getting soggy on the drive from the pizza joint. One methodical foodie has the home-cooked solution: an overnight baking powder bath.
Food writer and chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt went on a search for a homemade wing that delivered the same kind of taste experience as the deep-fried wings and drumettes from a favourite corner bar or pizza stop. The key, he writes, is "well-rendered, blistered, bubbly, crackly skin", which sauce can cling to and prevents the whole affair from becoming soggy. A standard oven-baked wing is more slick, doesn't hold as much sauce and loses its crisp quickly.
After trying a few methods, including a failed tip from food hacker Alton Brown, the wing hunter tried a trick gleaned from lazy Sunday mornings:
For instance, adding a bit of extra baking soda to pancake batter-thereby making the batter more alkaline-improves its browning capabilities. Would the same trick work on my chicken wings? I baked five batches of wings on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
Be sure to read the full post for the how-to on homemade wings, because there's more to it than just tossing your wings in a tablespoon of baking powder. Overnight open-air refrigeration is required, and the whole process requires day-ahead planning. Still, from what the author tells us, it's worth the effort, and you and your guests may not have to surrender quite so much cash, or ingest quite so much oil, to get a great wing.
While you're boning up (see what I did there?) on preparations, check out a video guide to eating a wing with less mess.
The Food Lab: In Search of the Best Oven-Fried Buffalo Wings [Serious Eats]