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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Honeyed 5-Spice Chicken Wings (with Creamy Cilantro Dip)

It’s probably sacrilegious to admit this on a food blog—but I’m a sucker for junk food.  Now I don’t mean junk food in the traditional sense (though I am addicted to potato chips).  Instead, I refer to the junk-y food that most foodies would turn their noses up at.  I love it all: from childhood Big Macs shared with my dad, to boxed Mac n Cheese after late Saturday nights.  And though I haven’t had any in years, I still count Pizza Hut buffalo wings among my list of unabashedly lamentable eating predilections.  While even I will laugh at the thought of Pizza Hut wings ruining me for all other buffalo wings, I will concede that I have yet to find the perfect recipe for homemade buffalo wings.  After all, it’s pretty difficult to compete with the sentimentality of memory and the taste of nostalgia. 

Instead, after taking a break from testing buffalo wing recipes, I took a fortuitous detour that led straight to these irresistible honeyed 5-spice wings!  I’ve always been skeptical of oven-baked wings, but these are the perfect blend of crispy skin, oozing honeyed glaze, and juicy tender meat.  Add the cool, creamy cilantro dip and you’ve got a genius accompaniment for the aromatic complexity from the 5-spice, dry heat from the cayenne, and satisfying indulgence from the honey glaze.  These wings are inspired, dangerously addicting, and absolutely a new favorite.    

Honeyed 5-Spice Wings with Creamy Cilantro Dip
Adapted from Leite’s Culinaria
\Total Recipe Cost: $6.93 for 18 wing pieces!

For the wings:
9 whole chicken wings (~3 lbs)
1 tablespoon 5-spice powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce

For the dip:
½ cup minced cilantro
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup light mayonnaise
juice from ½ lemon (~1.5 T)

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

If you have whole chicken wings, separate them at the joints into 3 sections, as pictured.  (For this recipe, you’ll only need the wings and drummettes.  I usually pop the wing tips the freezer and save them for future use in making chicken stock.)  Put the wings in a large bowl, and toss with the 5 spice, cayenne, and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Rub the spice mixture thoroughly onto each wing piece.

Place the chicken wings on baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup).  Bake at 500 F for 20 minutes.

While the wings are baking, mix together all the dip ingredients and refrigerate.  Also, mix the honey and soy sauce together.  After the 20 minutes of baking, remove the wings from the oven and brush them with the honey-soy mixture.  Put the wings back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until they are crispy and oozing with honey glaze. Serve the wings hot with the chilled cilantro dip and a tall stack of napkins!

Unit Cost
Total Cost
9 whole chicken wings
1 T 5-spice powder
2 t cayenne pepper

2 t honey
2 t soy sauce
½ C minced cilantro
$0.59/bundle (~ ¼ lb)
½ C sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
Juice from ½ lemon