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Author Notes: I decided fall and the arrival of football season were good enough reasons to think about wings that are decidedly man-friendly but also perfectly delectable for my girlfriends and I to munch on. I didn’t want to diverge so far from hot wings, but wanted more flavor beyond simple, vinegar-y heat. I wanted crisp without deep-frying (it’s a pain) and, because I like my couch to stay clean, wings that weren’t too-too saucy or messy.
“Piri piri” (sometimes peri peri or pili pili) is the Swahili reference for pepper, specifically the African bird’s-eye chili. Piri piri sauce and dishes originated in Mozambique and Angola, ex-Portuguese colonies. The peppers were brought to Africa by Portuguese traders and are a big part of Portuguese cuisine. Piri piri can also be found in parts of West Africa, Cape Verde, South Africa, Southern India and Brazil.
African bird’s eyes have ridiculous heat, so I took it down a few notches using fresnos and cherry peppers. These cherry peppers were actually pretty hot, so I only used one – you can use your own discretion and whatever red peppers you like for your heat tolerance here. The marinade is fantastic, infusing incredible flavor into the chicken, and with a bit more acid can be used as a sauce by itself.
Dredging the chicken and basting it in the spiced butter results in an amazing crust with juicy, flavorful, tender chicken underneath. Literally, the smell while they were cooking in the oven drove me (and my two dogs who were doing crazy circles) insane. Crunchy, spicy, garlicky, salty with a cool contrast from the dollop of crème fraiche I served alongside. Great for a party, a football game, or any night of the week…Enjoy! - aliyaleekong
Food52 Review: These crispy wings have a great mellow heat. I could see myself munching on them while watching a Giants game. It's an original recipe, and somewhat addictive right out of the oven. The chile addict in me might try it with even hotter peppers. – Alain —The Editors
Makes approximately 26 wings
- 2 pounds chicken wings, drummettes separated and tips reserved for another use
- 1 cherry pepper
- 2 fresno peppers
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/2" piece of ginger
- 1 small shallot, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- handful of cilantro
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 cup butter
- Place all of the marinade ingredients (except wings) in a food processor and process until pureed. In a baking dish or nonreactive bowl, combine wings with the marinade so that all are completely coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 1 day in advance.
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- In a resealable plastic bag, add flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Seal and shake to combine. Remove chicken wings from marinade, wiping off and reserving any excess marinade, and place in the plastic bag. Seal bag and shake to coat. Remove wings, shaking off any excess flour and place on a rack on a baking sheet.
- In a small saucepan, heat butter with a few teaspoons of remaining marinade until completely melted. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of wings with spiced butter. Bake (on the rack on a baking sheet) at 400° F for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 375° F, flip wings over, and bake another 20 minutes until golden and crispy.
- Serve with a side of crème fraiche.