The thing about blogging in real time is you miss the opportunity to make improvements on recipes because there isn't a second chance. Unfortunately that was the case with last night's wings. Had I the chance to do it all over, I'd have done things a little differently.
These wings are lovely and the sauce is really dynamite but the method of cooking the wings themselves leaves a bit to be desired. I love a good crisp coating on a wing and you just can't get that by baking it naked in the oven, at least I can't. They either end up brown but over cooked and dry, or pale and moist. What can I say?
Had I my druthers, I would have coated them in cornstarch and fried them in hot oil (or butter) to get them good and crisp and brown before they hit the oven to finish cooking; however I was out of cornstarch, low in oil and out of butter too. The cupboard's darn near bare and so is the wallet. Unfortunately I already spent the week's budget so there's no way I could hit the supermarket anyway. I'm kind of anal that way - ok call it disciplined. Thankfully tomorrow's shopping day (Saturday).
Now about that dynamite sauce, don't let it scare you. The basis is a lovely golden caramel made from white sugar and a touch of water. It's no work at all because as you likely know, caramel thrives on being ignored as far as stirring goes anyway. Ya' gotta' keep your eye on the stuff to make sure it doesn't burn but for heaven's sake don't stir it or move the pot while you're letting that sugar melt. After the carmel is perfect, it gets a lift with Asian ingredients and coats the wings with a perfect flavor combination - and I do mean perfect.
The Big Guy loved it so much he said it took his breath away, and that was true but not for the reason you think. Between you and me I might have added a little extra sambal oelek to the mix just to get a rise out of him. LOL
I'm posting the recipe the way it was constructed last night but stay tuned for the improved version shortly. I'm determined to make 'em perfect next time and I know for a fact there's won't be any complaints from the peanut gallery about the repeat.
General Tao Chicken Wings (adapted from Ricardo Larrivee, Food Network Canada)
1-1/2 pounds chicken drummettes
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (or more per your taste)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
Green onion for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and place wire cooling racks on top. Spray all well with cooking spray. Place wings into a bowl and coat well with oil. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and arrange on racks so they’re not touching each other. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn wings and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until meat is tender. Finish by broiling until skin is crisp and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, place sugar and water in a large saucepan and cook without stirring over medium heat until the mixture turns golden in color. Important – do not stir or move the pot during this process. In a bowl whisk together cornstarch, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, water, ginger, garlic, sambal oelek and paprika. Stir carefully into hot caramel mixture and simmer until sauce is smooth and syrupy – about 30 seconds. When wings are cooked remove to a bowl and toss with warm sauce. Garnish with green onion. Download General Tao Chicken Wings
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