For the athletes on the field, the Super Bowl is the culmination of hard work, super-human discipline and countless hours of practice. For the rest of us, it’s an excuse to stuff our faces with junk food. And nothing goes down with Super Bowl viewing like a handful of “Salted Something-o’s” from the bag, going knuckles deep in a jar of queso and, of course, at least a dozen wings.
Unfortunately you won’t find deep-fried wings, cloaked in a rich, thick hot sauce in any recipe on LetsMove.gov. All that oil and butter turn what could be a protein-rich, never-ending poultry buffet into a fatty, calorie-dense gut bomb, ready to clog your arteries. Tokeru Kobayashi, we’re praying for you.
Wait, Why Are You Pickin’ On My Fried Chicken? It doesn’t take Julia Child to know that breading and deep frying food isn’t good for you. According to Fat Secret, a single breaded, fried and sauced chicken wing checks in at 150 calories, bare minimum. Multiply that by the 20 or so you’re probably going to put away over the course of the game, and you’re already clocking more than 3,000 calories. Throw in the nachos and seven-layer dip and, well, your stomach’s got its work cut out for it.
What Can I Do About It? The obvious answer is to find an alternative cooking method to frying the wings, like roasting them in the oven. You’ll lose the juicy deliciousness that frying imparts by locking in all that liquid umami, but you’ll cut your calories and fats in half.
Nor does flavor have to be totally sacrificed. It can always be added back in with some smart cooking hacks. For instance: Blanch your wings in a pot of water with a splash of vinegar and some toasted spices before putting them in the oven.
Blanching has a twofold effect. First, the vinegar and spices will penetrate your chicken and add back some of that lost flavor. Second, it makes your wings even healthier by rendering extra fat into the water.
Is That It? Almost. Most hot wing recipes use butter as an emulsifier to thicken the sauce and better coat the wings. There are natural sweeteners like honey, however, that can be used as a healthier alternative. In addition to acting as a thickening agent, honey will help balance the heat of your hot sauce. But don’t take our word for it: Check out the below recipe for Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings, courtesy of Drew Coleman, Executive Chef at The Must, a wine bar serving contemporary comfort food in downtown Los Angeles.
- 5 pounds chicken wings, preferably first and second joint connected
- 3 tablespoons whole cumin seed
- 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 gallon water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups Louisiana hot sauce, preferably Trappy’s or Crystal
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- Celery leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch celery, cut into 2” sticks
- 1 red serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine dry spices in a saute pan and put over medium heat. Toast them while moving them around in the pan, until they become aromatic.
- In a large pot, combine water, salt and toasted spices. Add bay leaves and vinegar. Bring to a boil, making sure the salt is dissolved.
- Add chicken wings to the water and turn down the heat to a simmer. If the wings don’t all fit in your pot, you can do this in batches. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- When wings are done simmering, pull them from the pot, rinse them under cold water and let them drain. Dry them off with paper towels and place on cookie sheet.
- Put the wings into the oven. If you have a wire rack to elevate them, it will keep them out of the fat that renders when they cook, but it’s not a must-have. Cook until skin is crispy, about 15 minutes depending on your oven. You should turn the wings over during the last 5 minutes so both sides get crispy. (If you’re cooking on a wire rack, you don’t need to turn them.)
- While the wings are in the oven, add the hot sauce and honey to a pot. Bring to a boil and quickly lower the heat. Honey will burn so you want to keep this at a low simmer as it reduces, not too high. Continue to reduce until the sauce becomes thick to the point where it coats a spoon.
- When the wings are done, place them in a bowl. Drizzle the reduced sauce over the wings and toss until coated. Throw in the celery sticks so they get a little sauce on them.
- Transfer to a large plate or platter, and apply chopped cilantro and celery leaves to garnish.