Monday, October 24, 2011

Makeover Monday: Oven Baked Buffalo Wings

Football season is in full swing.  Are you as excited as I am?  For those of you who don't know me, I am a diehard K-State and Kansas City Chiefs fan.  In case you haven't been paying attention, the K-State football team is off to a 7-0 start and is ranked as the #8 team in the country this week.  And the Chiefs, after an abysmal start to the season are 3-3 and shut out the hated Raiders 28-0 yesterday.  So I'm feeling pretty good about football season today.

While I love the game itself, I must say one of the best things about football season is coming up with a delicious game day menu.  Watching a game just isn't as fun if you are sitting on the couch not eating.  I think part of the excitement of a big game for me is the excuse to throw my normal routine out the window and eat something sinfully bad for me.  And what captures the essence of football watching better than wings and beer? 

So a few weeks ago, in the spirit of football watching, I decided to make Buffalo Wings.  Chicken is rarely prepared in my house, and frying chicken is even more rare.  As in, it's never been done.   I had what seemed like a great recipe for wings from Cook's Illustrated, but I was feeling really uneasy about frying the chicken.  Then my husband proposed that I just bake the chicken.  I wasn't sure about it at first.  Chicken wings are fried, not baked, and I was afraid they wouldn't turn out well if I baked them.  But in the name of clear arteries I decided to try it.  

I prepared the recipe basically as written.  I coated the wings with seasonings and cornstarch.  Then instead of frying them, I sprayed them with a little cooking spray and baked them.  While they were baking I prepared the Buffalo sauce.  When the wings were done baking I coated them with sauce.  Then we ate them--all of them!  I really meant to make enough to last for two meals, but these were just too good.  I suppose I should point out that I halved the recipe.  No, we did not eat three pounds of chicken!

Despite my fear, I think the texture was just as good as if they had been fried.  The sauce had a nice kick to it without being overly hot.  One change I did make to cut out a few calories from the sauce was that I used margarine instead of butter.  Butter isn't exactly the dominate taste in Buffalo wings, and the fat isn't needed for textural purposes so I don't think you miss out on anything except the calories!  I don't know exactly how many calories were saved by baking instead of frying.  The original recipe called for a whopping 1-2 quarts of oil for frying.  Of course, not all of that ends up on the wings.  But some of it does!  And at 120 calories per tablespoon of oil, the calorie saving potential is enormous! 

So next time you are planning an afternoon of football watching or just have a random craving for Buffalo wings, try this baked variety.  Your arteries and your waistline will thank you!

Oven Baked Buffalo Wings
4 Tbsp margarine
1/2 cup Frank's Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch 
3 lbs chicken wings
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
Mix together cayenne and black pepper, salt, and cornstarch.  Dry chicken with paper towels and place pieces in large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle spice mixture over chicken and toss with plastic spatula to coat evenly.  Place wings on baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray, and bake about 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
While chicken is baking, melt margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in remaining ingredients until combined then move to large bowl. 
When chicken is done baking, add to sauce bowl and toss to coat wings evenly.  Serve immediately. 

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated. 

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