Mastering the Art of the Spicy Chicken Wing
As we hold on to the last few fleeting weeks of summer, cherishing each warm, sunset-watching-on-the-porch evening we have left, let’s all raise a spatula (or at least a good pair of tongs) to salute the champion of late summer cookouts and early fall tailgating parties. The one that will have us firing up those grills right up until cooling temperatures force us indoors. This is my long-winded way of saying there’s no better time than 4:15 pm on August 17th to master the art of the spicy chicken wing.
As the (self-appointed) Guru of All Things Hot-and-Spicy at our Savory Spice Corporate Office, I granted myself the privilege of whipping up some sauce-tastic hot wings for everyone in the office to try. My goals were twofold: 1) Go beyond traditional Buffalo-style sauce and explore some hip, new flavors from our sweat-inducing selection of chiles and paprikas, and 2) Find out which of my coworkers has the toughest taste buds (besides me, of course).
In picking the spices, I first settled on Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika because of Test Kitchen Chef Michael’s blog about how to use paprika to make anything taste like bacon. It made me all-too-painfully aware that I have yet to taste bacon-flavored chicken wings in this life. Easy choice. Also, I was sure the heat level would be on the low end for the actual babies in the office.
Next, I chose Hatch Green Chile Powder—but only because I love hatch green chiles with all of my heart, body, and soul. Plus, they’re a solid medium on the spiciness scale. Finally, I wanted a chile that was just really up there in Scovilles. The fiery kick of Habanero Chile Powder was just the thing to turn someone in the office into a human tea kettle. Fun!
After my first attempt to create a hot sauce recipe from scratch resulted in a mess resembling a tragic oil spill, I enlisted our resident sauce expert Michael to help develop a delicious, sticky, hot sauce recipe. I call it “Joseph’s Spicy Spice Jam” because I always wanted to name a recipe and also I don’t know how SEO works. What’s that? Sorry, the actual recipe name is “Hot Wing Chile Glaze”. Try making it. The texture is smooth and the sweetness nicely balances even our spiciest chile powders.
I consulted our Sweet Chile Saffron Wings recipe to get the perfect crispy, oven-baked skin on the chicken, then tossed in sauce like a boss. By the time I finished the final batch, I had only received 62 passive aggressive complaints about how the simmering hot sauce aroma was wafting from the kitchen and making people cough. You know what they say: If you can’t take the heat, then close your office door, Carol!
I enlisted four volunteers to try the different wing flavors and give feedback. The paprika wings were smoky, sweet, salty, and “meaty”–like they were wrapped in bacon and covered in barbecue sauce. So basically life-changing. Testers characterized the hatch green chile wings as bright and tangy, with a hint of garlic and a nice punch of heat that faded quickly. And they described the habanero wings as: “Why?”, “My mouth is on fire!”, and “*blows repeatedly while waving hand at mouth.*” That wasn’t particularly helpful feedback, but personally I’d say the habanero wings had a mildly fruity flavor and an intense heat that non-babies will love.
But which spicy chicken wing was the favorite of the group? That prestigious crown belongs to Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika. It was a complete surprise to me that the paprika wings won, but they definitely had a deliciously complex sauce that I could see myself slathering on other barbecue fare. Since these family-friendly wings are unquestionably mild, you can easily swap out the sweet paprika for Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika or add a dash of Cayenne Chile Powder to quickly crank up the heat. If that’s something you’re into.
How are you serving up your spicy chicken wings this summer? Tag @savoryspiceshop on Instagram with your sauciest wings and your reddest faces!