Angela's Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Greetings, and welcome to all of my new readers! I'm happy to get back to blogging today and even more excited about the recipe I'm ready to share. I had an amazing, interesting, and/or overwhelming summer, depending on how you look at it. On the cooking front, I've been quite busy in the kitchen these last couple months. I had the pleasure of cooking for so many of my friends and family this summer between cookouts, dinners, visits from out-of-towners and holiday gatherings. And in my never-ending quest to acquire new skills, I got plenty of practice with my new KitchenAid stand mixer, perfected my buttermilk biscuit recipe, learned how to use a deep fryer, got an awesome gig cooking for Chad 'Ochocinco' Johnson, and joined a MasterChef Cookalong with Jordan Roots via Google Hangouts!

My first client as a personal chef in South Florida - Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson!

On a personal front, all signs have slowly but surely pointed in the direction of heading back home to Virginia. As of last week, my ten year career in construction accounting has unexpectedly come to an end. Although it is never easy leaving a job that very much became part of my identity over the years, I'm looking forward to the opportunity I now have to focus full-time on making my culinary dreams reality. To do so will require much more of a support network than I have down here in South Florida, so I am looking forward to getting back home to my family and friends in Northern VA later this fall! I cannot wait to let everybody know when "The Kitchenista" is officially open for business.

Now about this recipe. What better way to celebrate a return back to the DMV (DC, and the metro areas of Maryland & Virginia) than a classic pairing of fried chicken wings and Mumbo Sauce? For those who haven't experienced the heaven that is dipping a hot crispy chicken wing into that sweet, tangy red sauce that is original to DC, I implore you to get your hands on a bottle from Capital City Mumbo Sauce. Arsha Jones, owner of Capital City, was kind enough to send me a couple bottles to experiment with and believe me I've had fun doing so.  Besides a dipping sauce, Mumbo Sauce makes a great accompaniment to your favorite meats and even fish. My favorite new way to enjoy it was as a glaze for seared salmon!

Mumbo Glazed Wild Salmon with Fried Duck Egg over Sauteed Collard Greens & Tomatoes
Thanks to an awesome fish taco dish I cooked in the MasterChef Cookalong, it was necessary for me to pick up a small deep fryer as the latest addition to my kitchen equipment. I know, I know...quite a dangerous temptation to have sitting on the counter but so far I've managed to limit the frying to special occasions this summer. Naturally, chicken wings had to be made. The great thing about wings is that you get all the benefits of crispy fried chicken in much less time and with far less cleanup than frying a whole chicken requires.  The small Hamilton Beach deep fryer I picked up was inexpensive (just about $40 on sale), painless to set up, and fits comfortably on my kitchen counter. It came highly recommended from one of my Twitter followers, and I have to agree it was a decent buy for a novice like me. The only minor criticism I have is that the basket is quite shallow, so you are limited to fairly small batches when frying. That said, I've successfully fried fish, frog legs and chicken wings so far with ease.

If you aren't looking to add a deep fryer to your kitchen, you can definitely execute this recipe in a large heavy cast iron skillet or Dutch oven pot. Just be sure to monitor the temperature of the oil using a deep fry (or candy) thermometer.  I was hesitant to add another piece of equipment to my collection, but I must say that even if you only plan to fry a few times throughout the year, a small deep fryer is a worthwhile investment in getting the job done properly and easily. My only warning to you is that once you realize how easy it is to fry wings on your own, you're going to want to fry everything. Don't be that cook. I still stand by my goals in healthy cooking with the occasional indulgence...this would obviously be one of them.

 Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings

4 lbs fresh (not frozen) antibiotic-free chicken wings, skin-on
1/2 large white onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 c. buttermilk
2 c. seasoned all purpose flour, recipe follows
8 c. peanut oil

Seasoned Flour:
2 c. all purpose flour (my preference is White Lily)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground sage
3 tsp ground oregano
3 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried lemon peel
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp kosher salt

Servings: approx 16 wings
Prep Time: 30 min active; 2-4 hours marinating time
Cook Time: 20 min
Equipment Needed: wire rack, 8 cup capacity deep fryer or large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven pot

Start out with combining the chopped onions, crushed garlic, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl that will be large enough to hold your wings while they marinate.  You can add more or less hot sauce depending on your desired level of heat. Same for the amount of cayenne in the seasoned flour later.

Add the cold buttermilk and stir to dissolve the salt well. Depending on how much hot sauce you used, it'll turn a weird pink color that reminds me of Thousand Island dressing. I hate Thousand Island, so this part grosses me out a little. 

Add the chicken wings and be sure they are all coated well in buttermilk. Now, this is completely up to you but I prefer to snip off the wing tips whenever I cook wings. Use them for stock or throw them out; personally I find them useless on a cooked wing. The wing tips tend to cook much faster than the rest of the wing, so if you do choose to keep them it's wise to tuck them under the leg before you fry.

Cover the bowl and return to the fridge for at least two hours, up to four. The buttermilk and salt will tenderize the chicken and all those other flavors will impart some extra deliciousness into the meat.

Meanwhile, turn on your deep fryer and get the oil heating to 375°.  Peanut oil is fairly expensive but has a really high smoke point and adds a nice flavor to fried chicken. My other favorite is grape seed oil. Unfortunately it's about the same price, however it's a healthy oil to cook with and has almost no flavor. I'd describe it as a "cleaner" taste when frying chicken if you're a purist.

Prepare the seasoned flour by whisking together the flour, baking powder and all seasonings. My preference is White Lily flour for a light, crisp crust on the fried chicken. It's the same flour I recommend for biscuits, pancakes, and most other baked goods.  This might seem like a lot of spices and salt to add to the flour, but you really want to make sure the coating of the chicken is flavorful and properly salted.

When your chicken has had plenty of time to marinate, it's time to dredge. I don't usually have paper grocery bags on hand so I just add a few wings at a time directly into the seasoned flour and turn them to coat well. Shake off as much of the buttermilk marinade as you can before adding to the flour. If you want to do it in a paper bag, just add your flour, several wings, and shake to coat.

Place each batch of dredged wings on your wire rack as you go. They should sit for about ten to fifteen minutes before frying.  If you're in a rush, skip the resting time, but I've gotten better results allowing the flour to soak up that buttermilk.

In small batches (I do 4 or 5 wings at a time), carefully drop the chicken wings one by one into the hot oil.  Use proper safety precautions for your deep fryer, to include closing the lid if available.  This one has a nice vented lid with a window to monitor progress.

The wings will need to fry about five minutes at 375° to ensure a crisp golden crust and to cook the meat all the way through. The good thing about a deep fryer is that it regulates the oil temperature and keeps it constant throughout cooking time, as opposed to a skillet or Dutch oven which require a little more manipulation. Set a timer so that you don't lose track of time, and check the wings half way through.

When the chicken wings are golden brown and finished cooking, carefully raise the deep fryer basket to drain excess oil. Turn the wings out onto paper towels or brown paper to absorb oil, and lightly season with a pinch of salt while still hot. Continue with remaining batches of chicken until you're done frying.

Good luck making it to the table! We devoured a good portion of wings standing right here at the counter. My favorite version of Mumbo Sauce is definitely the Sweet Hot, as you can tell by the almost empty bottle! The wings are deliciously seasoned and crispy with tender meat that falls off the bone. Who can resist?

And because this was an extra special occasion (Jaden's first day of school) I agreed to whip up his favorite...homemade mac and cheese.

Well if you're going to make macaroni and cheese and fried chicken, you have to get some greens on that plate too! I sauteed some fresh organic collard greens and red kale with onions and garlic for a delicious healthy side dish alongside my chicken and mac & cheese. Mmmm...the soul food trifecta.

Enjoy y'all....and don't forget that Mumbo Sauce!

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  1. Hey, even though this is a really old article, I just stumbled on this blog and I'd like to say this recipe looks REALLY good, I'll definitely be trying this tomorrow!

  2. BEST fried chicken recipe ever. Never used White Lily flour before this and now I wouldn't use anything else.

  3. Excellent batter for the chicken! Only thing is I cannot get White Lily flour where I live so I had to use regular AP. Also didn't have the Mumbo Sauce (did find it online to buy) which I am sure is fantastic, so I made a sauce of my own. Love the idea of pairing the chicken with mac & cheese and greens. I didn't have any greens on hand, but I did make your mushroom/caramelized onion mac & cheese and that was great too.

  4. Love the wings, always love buttermilk soaked chicken, thank you for sharing with all of us. Ricky