Like most sports-watching, bar-hopping American males, I can ingest copious amounts of poultry flight appendages in one sitting--even more so when these appendages are varnished with a spicy glaze. Yes, I'm a chicken wing fiend. Buffalo wings, red hots, hot wings--whatever the moniker, I'll stuff my face with them.
In fact, I've found that my chicken wing consumption is directly correlated with the amount of televisions in my immediate vicinity. For example, I have a modest-sized television at home, so I eat a modest amount of hot wings as a couch potato--about 2 pounds worth (that's modest for me). But when I'm at a sports bar or other such venue and am surrounded by dozens of giant flat-screens, I tend to overindulge a bit--perhaps all the blinky lights distract me from the burgeoning pain in my belly.
Anyhizzle, with Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, I figured now was a good time to unleash my Adobo Chicken Wing recipe upon the masses--or at least for the Filipino-philes that are also football-philes--who need a new hot wing recipe for their Super Bowl party (or for any occasion, really).
In all honesty though, this isn't a true adobo recipe (i.e. the chicken isn't braised in the necessary adobo potion of garlic, black pepper, bay leaf, vinegar, and soy/salt). Rather, it's a recipe for Crispy Chicken Wings in a Spicy-Sweet Adobo Glaze (the glaze does contain the necessary adobo potion). Despite the lack of a braise, these adobo wings are simple to prepare and tasty to boot. Trust me.
"I want four chicken wings fried hard!"
Like most hot wing recipes, my Filipinized hot wings start with frying some unicorn chicken wings until golden and crisp.
Then, to make my adobo glaze, I simmer some vinegar, soy, garlic, siling labuyo (bird's eye chilies), red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and brown sugar. Although this combination of ingredients sound simple enough, I went through a few different iterations before I was satisfied with the final glaze.
For different levels of sweetness and stickiness, I tried honey and molasses but found that these interfered with that familiar Filipino Adobo flavor. So I just settled on good ol' brown sugar. And for different levels of heat, I tried incorporating sambal and sriracha, but nixed those for the same reasons as I did the honey and molasses. Ultimately, the best heat came from a mix of chopped bird's eye peppers and red pepper flakes. In terms of vinegar, I found that apple cider provides more of a definite tang, while Sukang Iloco was more restrained, but I feel that either vinegar works well in this application.
When I finally perfected my sauce, I threw everything into a large bowl, chicken wings and all, and then tossed to coat.
Mmmm. Hot wings and adobo. Together at last.
While I've become quite accustomed to my own mix of sweetness and spice, do feel free to adapt the recipe to your own taste. The wings, prepared as is, aren't that spicy to me--but I eat spicy food on the regular. My wife, on the other hand, was able to enjoy about three wings before the heat blew her head off. And that was just fine with me--settling into my chair in front of the TV with a plate of wings on my lap and a beer in my hand is my kind meal.
Crispy Chicken Wings with Sweet & Spicy Adobo Glaze
Makes 2 pounds of wings (about 15-20 pieces)
The sauce in this recipe makes just enough glaze for 2 pounds of chicken wings. If you'd like more sauce for dipping, double the glaze recipe.
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 siling labuyo (bird's eye thai chilies), finely minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup Sukang Iloco (or apple cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
For the wings:
2 pounds wings, cut into drumettes and flats, wingtips removed
vegetable oil for frying
For the glaze:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chilies, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the garlic just starts to brown.
Add the vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and black pepper and stir to combine. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until sauce reduces and thickens a bit.
For the wings:
Add vegetable oil to a large skillet to reach depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat until oil reaches 350-375°. Add wings to skillet. Cook for 8-10 minutes until wings are golden. Transfer wings to paper towels to drain.
When all wings are cooked, place them into a large bowl. Pour the glaze over the chicken wings and toss to coat. Discard the bay leaf. Serve immediately. This dish goes especially well with some Filipino pickled green papaya and carrots--Atchara.
I used to strictly be a flats guy. But drummettes are just as finger-lickin'.