Slow-Cooker Sticky Wings

From Cook's Country | February/March 2010
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Why this recipe works:

When we tried adding the sauce for our Slow-Cooker Sticky Wings to the slow cooker, the juices from the wings drowned it out. Instead, we cooked the wings bare. A sauce of soy sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne won out over more complex options. For… read more

When we tried adding the sauce for our Slow-Cooker Sticky Wings to the slow cooker, the juices from the wings drowned it out. Instead, we cooked the wings bare. A sauce of soy sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne won out over more complex options. For through-and-through flavor, we borrowed an idea from barbecue pit masters and coated the wings with a spicy paste before cooking. Achieving an acceptable level of stickiness wasn’t possible with a slow cooker alone. To give the wings their requisite “stick," we painted the cooked wings with sauce and set them under the broiler.

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Serves 12

In step 3, the oven rack should be 10 to 12 inches from the broiler element. Don’t wander off while the wings are in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 pounds chicken wings, halved at joint and wingtips removed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

Instructions

  1. 1. MAKE RUB Pulse ginger, garlic, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in food processor until finely ground. Add mixture to slow cooker insert. Add chicken and toss until combined.

    2. COOK AND COOL Cover and cook on low until fat renders and chicken is tender, 3 to 4 hours. Using slotted spoon, remove wings from slow cooker and transfer to clean large bowl (discard liquid in slow cooker). Let wings cool 20 minutes (or cool briefly and refrigerate up to 24 hours).

    3. SAUCE AND BROIL Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Set wire rack inside rimmed baking sheet and spray rack with baking spray. Whisk water, tomato paste, remaining sugar, remaining soy sauce, and remaining cayenne in bowl. Add half of sauce to bowl with cooled wings and toss gently to coat. Arrange wings, skin side up, on prepared rack. Broil until wings are lightly charred and crisp around edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Flip wings, brush with remaining sauce, and continue to broil until well caramelized, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Slow-Cooker Solution

Most slow-cooker recipes for sticky wings cook the sauce and the wings together, which results in a bland, greasy, watery mess. We cook the wings with a small amount of a potent paste so they can soak up flavor as they render fat, then coat them with the sauce at the end.

THROW IT OUTFour pounds of chicken wings render about 2 cups of fat. Most recipes incorporate this fat into the sauce. We throw it out.

SAUCE BEFORE BROILINGA quick dump-and-stir sauce coats the wings just before they go under the broiler. The sauce caramelizes in less than 20 minutes.

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