State Of Origin Game 2 kicks off this Wednesday. Whether you're hosting a game night or just watching solo, do yourself a favour: forgo the usual cheap pizza and make these delicious chicken wings instead.
Photos by Sam Bithoney.
Let's make something awesome and easy tonight. No, not macaroni pictures. Let's make some kick-arse, not-orange chicken wings!
Chicken is pretty boring as far as meats go. It might be the most vanilla of the lot, with no real taste of its own. Lucky for us, that makes chicken a perfect vessel to deliver mind-blowing flavour. And is there a more classic pairing for chicken than Caesar dressing? No, there is not. So let's get started.
For the wings:
- 900 grams of whole wings, separated
- ½ cup salt. Pickling salt is best. If you don't have it you can throw kosher into a food processor or burr grinder until finely ground.
- 1.9 litres of water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Stir the salt into the water in a container large enough to hold the wings until it dissolves. A quick brine will help to keep the wings moist while the skin crisps up on the outside.
Separating the wings is crucial. Look at the drumette, wingette and tip. The tip isn't entirely worthless — you can reserve them for making stock later on — but they have no place in our recipe today. Bag them, freeze them.
The drumette is a big, meaty hunk and the wingette (sometimes called a "flat") is not. They will cook at different speeds, so leaving the wings whole will lead to overcooked flats or undercooked drums. Use whatever means necessary to get them apart — a sharp knife, a cleaver, or those $US100 ($131) poultry shears that you mostly use to open packages all work well.
Follow the joint for the wing-tip, and follow the bone to the joint on the drumette.
Now that your kitchen is a biohazard, prick the wing pieces with a fork all over, but not too deep. This will help the brine penetrate the meat and skin faster. Add the wings to the brine, cover and refrigerate for no more than 30 minutes. Clean and sanitize every surface and item in your kitchen. While the wings brine, combine the cornstarch and pepper in a small bowl.
Palace of the Brine
After 30 minutes of brining, pat the wings dry with a paper towel and sprinkle the cornstarch/pepper mixture on them. The starch will work to crisp the skin, but it will also help to keep the wings from sticking on your grill. Speaking of that, go ahead and get that grill hot, clean, and oiled. Keep it around medium heat, about 350 degrees.
Grill the wings skin-side down over direct heat for about 15 minutes, or until just charred. Grills vary, so this may take less time. Keep an eye on them! When they're ready, flip them over and give them another 10 minutes. Both sides should be crisp and you should be at around 170 degrees internally. Get them to a plate and rest for 15 minutes, uncovered.
While the wings rest, prepare your dressing. The stuff at the store will not do. You are better than that, dear reader. You need to make a kick-arse flavour-packed dressing from scratch, without worrying about breaking the emulsion (or the bank). For that, we'll turn to none other than J Kenji López-Alt of The Food Lab for what might be the quintessential immersion blender Caesar dressing.
For the dressing:
- 2 teaspoons of minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Two to six anchovies (or anchovy paste - I use a teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
In the original recipe, the garlic is whisked with oil for a quick infusion to coat croutons. We aren't making croutons today, but you are more than welcome to do so. Personally, I prefer the bite. If you're not into it, feel free to change it as you see fit.
"Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, pressed garlic, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese in the bottom of a cup that just fits the head of an immersion blender, or in the bottom of the food processor. With blender or processor running, slowly drizzle in canola oil until a smooth emulsion forms. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Season to taste generously with salt and pepper."
Tossing the hot wings in a freshly made dressing can possibly break the emulsion from the heat, which means not sticking to your wings. They will just be a sad mess.
Thankfully, you were patient and the wings should be cooled off a bit by now. Pour some of the dressing into a large bowl and toss a few wings at a time, coating them completely and moving them to the serving vessel of your choosing.
The crunch of the skin, the bite of the garlic, the punch of umami from the anchovies and creamy goodness of that emulsified dressing are sure to make this a meal you won't soon forget, and an excellent addition to your repertoire.
If you're not into Caesar, you could:
- Opt for a classic BBQ rub
- Go with some sweet heat! Combine apricot jam, honey, sriracha, lime juice and red chilli flake in a saucepan and whisk over low heat until thoroughly combined.
- Yogurt and chicken pair fantastically well on the grill. If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe The Food Lab.