Brine

Sticky Pomegranate & Black Pepper Chicken Wings

May 24, 2021
4.6 Stars
Photo by Mark Weinberg. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
Author Notes

Want the tenderest wings with a sticky glaze and glassy skin? First, start by dry-brining for at least 6 hours, preferably 24. This seasons them to the bone, dries out the skin, and begins breaking down their fat. Next, go for a two-stage roast, starting with moderate heat to render all the fat, then increasing the temp to caramelize the sticky glaze. This all takes time but, aside from a couple flips and tosses, the action is mostly hands off.

These wings are inspired by fesenjan (aka fesenjoon), a northern Iranian stew often served with tahdig or saffron rice. We’re using the same ingredients—pomegranate molasses, black pepper, cinamon, nutmeg, and walnuts—with a different technique, landing a totally new flavor profile. Here the pomegranate molasses deeply caramelizes, while the black pepper really punches. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, you can make your own by simmering pomegranate juice until it becomes thick like honey.

Want to try a variation? Try Sticky Fish Sauce Chicken Wings With Peanuts & Herbs and read more about this wing technique here so you have the confidence to take it off-script. —Sohla El-Waylly

  • Prep time 24 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Ingredients
  • Dry brine
  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
  • Pomegranate glaze
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, roughly chopped
  • Flaky salt (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Line a sheet pan with foil (for easy cleanup) and set an ovenproof wire rack inside.
  2. Brine the wings: Pat the wings dry with a paper towel and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the kosher salt, sugar, baking powder, and MSG (if using). Sprinkle this mixture over the wings and toss until evenly coated. Arrange the wings on the wire rack and refrigerate uncovered at least 6 hours or preferably overnight, flipping the wings halfway through. (Wash the bowl and keep it handy—we’ll be using it again.)
  3. When you’re ready to roast, heat the oven to 350°F.
  4. The first roast: Transfer the wings to the big bowl, toss with the oil until evenly coated, then return them to the wire rack. Roast the wings, flipping them once halfway through, until the skin is lightly browned, the flesh of the drumettes is starting to pull away from the bones, and the fat from the skin has mostly rendered, about 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Wash the large bowl. Add the sugar and pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water on top, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Add the pomegranate molasses, black pepper, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, whisking until combined.
  6. The second roast: Remove the wings from the oven and increase the temperature to 375°F. Transfer the wings to the bowl with the glaze and toss to coat. Use tongs to return the wings to the rack, reserving any remaining glaze in the bowl, and roast until lightly charred and glossy, about 20 minutes.
  7. Once the wings are out of the oven, transfer them to the bowl and toss again in the remaining glaze. Transfer the wings to a platter and garnish with the walnuts. Sprinkle with flaky salt if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Theresa
    Theresa
  • Shep Harper
    Shep Harper
  • Beth Brann
    Beth Brann
  • DD
    DD
Sohla El-Waylly is a Food52 Resident, sharing new riffable recipes every month that'll help you get creative in the kitchen. Watch her cook on YouTube in her new series, Off-Script With Sohla. Before she started developing fun recipes for home cooks, she worked as a chef in N.Y.C. and L.A., briefly owning a restaurant in Brooklyn with her husband and fellow chef, Ham El-Waylly. She lives in the East Village with Ham, their two dogs, and cat. Find out what else she's up to on Instagram @sohlae

12 Reviews

DD December 28, 2021
I omitted the MSG and also went light on the salt, yet they were way too salty; almost inedible.
 
judy December 26, 2021
Sounds delicious. but I have cranberry sauce still. I will try this with the remaining cranberry sauce. Get it used up. And it will taste great. also, Pomegranate molasses is expensive, and I should have to buy some.
 
charlenesilver July 30, 2021
Aah sticky and yum. Though this wasn’t an off script edition I went a little rouge on the glaze calling it “tamarind molasses sticky wings”. Cooked the chicken exactly as directed and they turned out spectacular. For the glaze since I didn’t have pomegranate molasses and standard molasses isn’t a substitute I went off script. Chose to do sweet Barbados molasses with 1.5tsp tamarind ball (I made 1/2 the recipe overall and had these two in my pantry). Kept all of the spices in appropriate 1/2 ratios. Added balsamic vinegar and a hint of liquid smoke to this. I was skeptical but the chicken cooked with this glaze was sweet and tangy. Yum! Will try the other glaze next time around :)
 
Theresa July 26, 2021
Have been experimenting with wings recipes, and noticed this one that uses a pomegranate glaze. I have used pomegranate molasses for various meats and other interesting flavor notes and happened to have a bottle in the pantry. The wings turned out beautifully, very nice flavor, glaze was distinctive, just as I was hoping. I only added a little Aleppo pepper to the glaze, and I liked the extra heat it gave. Will make these for an upcoming gathering we are planning.
 
WellDined April 15, 2021
I've made both versions now, and the flavor on both is amazing. Plus juicy meat, and crispy skin. BUT both times, the cooked wings repelled the glazes. Like, oil on water, just would not stick at all. Resulting in more of a dipping tableside situation. What the heck is causing that?
 
smccassell March 30, 2021
These wings I have now made 4 times. Do not want to waste any pomegranate molasses. They are really good. The technique is perfect. Used the MSG and I am a home cook trying things during this time of just eating my own cooking. Trying to keep it alive fresh and different. Push the envelope. Made the fish sauce recipe but this is the winner.
 
printrecipe March 19, 2021
Not sure what i did wrong but these were not good. The chicken was over cooked and the sauce was too much. Couldn't taste the chicken. Should not have tossed in sauce after second roast maybe??
 
J-Lon February 15, 2021
Other than omitting the MSG, I followed the recipe as written. It came out really well. That glaze has a great mix of flavors in it. Wondering how the process might need to be adjusted for chicken thighs?
 
J-Lon February 15, 2021
Other than omitting the MSG, I followed the recipe as written. It came out really well. That glaze has a great mix of flavors in it. Wondering how the process might need to be adjusted for chicken thighs or drum sticks?
 
Shep H. February 7, 2021
Wow. these came out great. Thanks
 
Beth B. February 7, 2021
These were really delicious. I made 1/2 recipe for myself to enjoy during the SuperBowl. Too bad I can't attach a photo, they looked beautiful. Thank you for the recipe and new technique.
 
beejay45 February 1, 2021
This technique is great. You give the best tools in your videos. I make my own pomegranate molasses, as you suggest, but I throw in a couple dried hibiscus/jamaica blossoms in for extra tang and, maybe a little more vibrant red at the end. Actually, the only times I've achieved the color I wanted was when I didn't reduce the juice all the way to molasses consistency. Call me shallow, but I was willing to sacrifice a little of the stickiness and richness of flavor for the visual pop.