I’ve mentioned my love of chicken wings on game day a few times, but it occurs to me I’ve never shared my method. The first time I tried cooking wings on my own I was pretty intimidated, and had to rely on a lot of help from the Internet, so for all the novice cooks out there, from a slightly less-novice cook, here’s what I do.
You will need:
- 18 large chicken wings, frozen
- Cookie sheet
- Instant-read thermometer
- Aluminum foil
- Medium serving bowl
- Protection from hungry pets
First, I prepare the night before. I use frozen wings; the 5 lb. bags of Tyson ice-glazed wings in the freezer section are my go-to choice, because they’re huge, and they’re also easy. From the bag I take out 18 wings—that’s how many will fit on one cookie sheet, as big as they are—and put them into a 1-gallon freezer bag with a zip top. If any are badly stuck together, don’t worry too much about it yet, but separate any you can. Then I pour in a generous helping of my marinade of choice, which is usually either straight Kikkoman teriyaki or a mix of their regular and garlic versions.
Get as much air out of the bag as possible, put it on a large plate (paper will do) in case of any mild leaks, and pop it in the fridge. Marination time should be at least 12 hours, but 24 is better. After 12 hours the wings will still be slightly frozen, which makes for longer cooking times. Nothing is exact about this; I always cook with a thermometer.
Come game day, I like to start an hour before unless I’m planning the wings for close to halftime. Preheat the oven to 375°. Get out two sheets of aluminum foil, each one big enough to fit the cookie sheet; make at least one of them with a little excess you can grab. Take the smaller one and press it down so it fits, then pick it up again and set it aside—it will be used later. Place the other sheet of foil onto the cookie sheet. (You don’t need cooking spray.) Then grab some tongs and remove the wings from the bag, and place them skin-side down on the sheet. I usually get seven along each long side, and four in the middle if I turn them sideways.
When the oven has preheated, put in the wings. Set a timer for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, pull out the cookie sheet. Carefully grab the edges of the aluminum foil you have been using and lift it, wings and all, off the cookie sheet. Put the second sheet of aluminum foil in its place, and put all the wings back but this time skin-side up. (Why I do this: it prevents the teriyaki sauce from burning and the chicken skin from sticking too much late in cooking.) Return the wings to the oven for at least 20 minutes. If, like me, you usually start with them still partially frozen after only an overnight marinade, make this 25.
Once the timer is done, you need to check the wings for doneness. The goal is 165° at the bone. I stick the thermometer into a few of them, especially the big pieces, and wash it off each time after I’m done checking (just to be safe). If they’re not done, return them to the oven for a few more minutes and repeat.
When it’s all finished, grab a bowl big enough to hold the wings. I recommend lining that with foil too, just for easier cleanup. Put all your wings in there, and enjoy. Pro tip: wherever you place the bowl, make sure your over-excited cat can’t knock it down with his tail when he jumps from the couch onto the floor.
The only thing I’m missing here is that after both rounds of cooking, each of the pieces of aluminum foil is covered in nice rendered chicken fat mixed with the marinade, and darn it I want to figure out a way to put that to use. A cleverer cook, especially one who likes sauces, would probably pour that into a pan along with some liquids and other spices to create a fantastic dipping or serving sauce. But I’m not much of a dipper and not a sauce guy, so this idea hasn’t ever much appealed to me. I wonder if maybe it could be put to work on some fried potatoes.