Wings are quintessential game day food so it seemed appropriate to share this recipe a few days before the Super Bowl. Were you to ask Shane he'd tell you that if you're going to eat wings, they should be buffalo wings but I tend to disagree. I am not a lover of spicy foods so although I'll eat buffalo wings from time to time (if they're mild), I like to switch things up too. Also, frying? It just doesn't happen here all that often. Not because it's too unhealthy (everything in moderation!) but because I'm lazy and I don't want to deal with the big pot of oil once I'm done with the process of frying something. Truth be told, I'm a little afraid of it too - hot splattering oil is not my friend. If I make an exception to the "no-fry" rule it's usually for doughnuts; they're always worth the effort :)
These wings are surprisingly easy. The cooking process occurs in two phases - first, the wings are cooked in your slow cooker with a paste-like mixture consisting of soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cayenne. Once the fat has been rendered and the meat is tender, the wings are removed and cooled slightly. At that point, you can either proceed to the second phase of the cooking process, or, if you like to plan ahead, you can stash the cooled wings in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. I love having the option to make things ahead of time and it's a real advantage to this recipe. In the second phase of the cooking process, the wings are placed on a wire rack set in a baking sheet and brushed with a sweet and tangy sauce, which caramelizes nicely under the broiler.
I think even Shane would agree this recipe was a nice alternative to buffalo wings. The meat was tender - almost to the point of falling off the bone. Aside from a bit around the edges, the wings don't really get crispy under the broiler but they're not flabby either. The sauce is thick, the perfect consistency for coating the wings. My only change next time will be to cut back on the ginger; it was a bit too strong for my tastes.
Slow Cooker Sticky Wings
from Cook's Country
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 pounds chicken wings, halved at joint (wing tips discarded)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup tomato paste
Add 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, the ginger, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is finely ground and a paste-like mixture results. Transfer the mixture to your slow cooker then add the wings and toss to coat them with the paste.
Cook on low until the chicken is tender, 3-4 hours. Transfer the wings to a large bowl, leaving as much of the liquid behind as possible and discarding it when all of the wings have been removed. Let the wings cool for about 20 minutes. (At this point you can put the cooled wings in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.)
Preheat your broiler and position one of the oven racks about 10-12 inches from the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place a wire rack inside the baking sheet. Spray the rack well with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the water, tomato paste, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Add half of this sauce to the bowl with the wings and gently toss to coat. Place the wings on the rack, skin side up. (I fit all 4 lbs of wings on one rack - spacing was very minimal between the wings.) Broil until the wings are lightly charred, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and flip the wings over. Brush the remaining sauce over them and return them to the oven. Broil for another 3 minutes, or until the sauce caramelizes.