I made my Chinese honey chicken wings late one night just hours before my brother was to leave for a butt-crack of dawn flight to CA. He’d packed his in-flight meal (linguine with red sauce) which was in the fridge. I should have taken a picture of it, he’d packed his fork and napkin so cleverly: he’d put a layer of plastic wrap over the food, placed his fork and napkin on top of the plastic wrap, and then put the lid on the container. So genius and yet so simple!
I am not so genius. I have this unfortunate habit of buying ingredients for all kinds of awesomeness but I tend to procrastinate about actually preparing said awesomeness; a lot of stuff goes bad before I get around to using it. So even though I’d gotten home a little late for slow cookery, I was determined not to let three pounds of chicken wings go to waste.
Star anise pod. Sorry, I know it looks like a spider. 😦
First I put the honey sauce together, then separated the wings at each joint, including the tips. I save the tips for future broth making; they’re not enough to make a good broth on their own, but I add them to any chicken carcasses I use when I do make broth. I feel bad that chicken wing tips are always being discarded–they need love too, you know!
The recipe I consulted said to run the wings under a broiler for a few minutes, which was a bit puzzling to me as the wings would simply lose its crispness once I put them into the slow cooker. Despite my misgivings about this extra step, I broiled the wings in my toaster oven. The light bulb moment came when I discovered the pool of fat in the tray; the focus isn’t on crisping the skin, it’s supposed to help render out some of the excess fat and deepen the flavor! Dur.
I chose to broil them in two batches: one batch of just the drumsticks, and one batch of the, uh, not-drumsticks. I figured they’d broil more evenly if each batch were all roughly the same size/thickness.
Lightly broiled wing segments tossed in sauce
Into the slow cooker crock they went, and I poured the sauce over them, tossing to be sure each had been kissed by the honey sauce. Slapped the lid on and set it on high for 2 1/2 hours.
And promptly forgot they were in there–I think I left the wings cooking away for nearly four hours before I remembered to turn it off. I really must get a slow cooker with an auto-off feature when I get better at this style of cooking, which, honestly, isn’t very difficult at all. Maybe the Persnickety Pleb has one she wants to offload? 😀
Worried the wings had overcooked, I gingerly reached in with a pair of tongs and lifted a drumstick. Folks, the meat fell clean off the bone. Good sign, right? I put three pieces of chicken into Lotus Brother’s lunch container and then tasted my creation.
Holy crap, it was FABULOUS! Sweet from the honey, slightly tangy from the vinegar, floral-spicy notes from the star anise, and with just the barest hint of kick from red pepper flakes, this is a real keeper.
I woke up the next day to a text message from the LB and here it is verbatim: What the f*** did you put in the chicken? It’s delicious”. Hooray, another slow cooker success!
Chinese Chicken Wings
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 star anise pods
1/2 tsp salt (there’s a lot of salt in the soy sauce already, so take it easy on the salt)
1 tsp ground pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
3 lbs chicken wings
- Preheat the broiler.
- Mix all sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Bend a chicken wing back at the main joint–it’ll protrude a little. With a good chef’s knife, cut through that protrusion and separate the wings. Do the same with the wing tip (those are easier to remove). Repeat with all the wings. Pat dry.
- Spread the chicken wings on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for about five minutes or until golden, remove from oven, flip the wings over, sprinkle with more salt and pepper, and broil for another five or so minutes until golden.
- Place in the slow cooker, toss with sauce, and set the cooker on high for 2.5 hours, or low for 6 hours. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve, hot or cold.
These wings are perfect for picnics, potlucks, pretty much any gathering!