As much as I enjoy tinkering with kitchen gadgets and creating/testing recipes, there are days when slaving over a cooktop or countertop for anymore than 30 minutes feels more like a burden then a blast. The other day was one of those days. Overwhelmed with weeknight rat race and other ongoing hurdles in my head, I turned to an old kitchen relic/newly reacquainted friend – my slow cooker for salvation. I reckoned I’ve used my friend perhaps once this year when I made Cochinita Pibil a few weeks ago. At 5 PM, armed with 2 packages of chicken wing drummettes and a few of my staple ingredients, that night’s supper was going to be honey-soy BBQ chicken wings drenched in its own somewhat fatty (in a good way) sauce over a bed of steamed Jasmine rice (as usual). I made a side dish of sautéed broccoli, red bell and baby bella mushrooms topped with crispy pancetta bits. I was able to muster up the energy to make the veggie medley in 10 minutes flat. Sanity is still in checked.
This BBQ wing thing is a far cry from a complicated recipe. I’d like to think of it as a no-brainer for the “lazy” in me, the “time-cruncher” in me, and surely for the “Hell, I’m not in the mood today” in me. All I did was: seasoned the chicken wings with salt, ground black pepper, browned them briefly to a golden color in a sauté pan, dumped them into my preheated slow cooker waiting in the wings (no pun intended), fried up my aromatics (ginger, garlic, sweet onions, honey, soy/fish sauce, BBQ sauce of choice) and topped them over the wings in the slow cooker. Closed the lid, cranked heat to HI and walked away! In 2 hours or so later, Voila! Family dinner before 7:30 PM. Not every night is this easy but luck was on my side this night.
Here’s my simple recipe. Makes 24 wings
24 chicken wings drummetes (or the entire wings)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 sweet yellow onion, such as Vidalia or Maui, finely chopped (tennis ball size)
1 cup BBQ sauce of choice (I used KC Masterpiece Original – neutral, not spicy for my girls)
2 tbsp honey
1.5 tbsp fish sauce (used 3 Crabs brand)
1.5 tbsp soy sauce, low sodium, naturally brewed
1 tbsp drinking white wine (more like a splash; used a leftover opened bottle of Pinot Grigio)
1 tbsp crushed dry red pepper flakes (optional)
kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste
canola or veg oil
1. Preheat large saute pan or wok on med-high heat. When pan is hot, drizzle some canola oil, about 1-1.5 tbsp. Swirl oil to coat bottom of pan evenly. When oil is smokey, add chicken wings, enough to cover pan but don’t overcrowd to avoid steaming the wings; going for golden brown exterior here. If necessary, brown wings in batches. Season surface of wings with salt and ground black pepper. When bottom side is browned, turned wings to opposite side and season with salt and ground black pepper. When all wings are browned, add them to preheated slow cooker.
2. In the same sauté pan or wok on med-high heat, lightly drizzle some more canola oil. Add chopped onions, minced garlic, ginger, BBQ sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, honey, wine, crushed red pepper flakes (if using), 3-4 turns of ground black pepper from the mill (or another pinch). With a spatula, stir ingredients to mix evenly. When the sauce bubbles in a couple of minutes, stir again quickly. Shut off heat.
3. Add sauce over chicken wings in the slow cooker. Close lid. Turn heat to HI, timed for 2 hours or LOW for 5-6 hours depending on the performance of one’s slow cooker.
4. After 2 hours, open lid, skim off excess fat, gently give chicken wings a stir to evenly coat wings with cooked sauce at the bottom. Serve with a side dish or two.