For some reason, I’ve been spending a lot more time on Facebook. I think, more than anything, I was craving a little more social media substance than I could get from 140 characters on Twitter and the all too similar selfies on Instagram. At any rate, there’s just something refreshing about reading an article and being able to discuss it ad nauseam with a group of your closest friends of friends, to speed up the passing of the work day.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a picture of Maple Bourbon Bacon Wings. There was no recipe attached. Here’s something that everyone should know about me…I love bacon…and bourbon. So, as you can imagine, I fell in love with the mere idea of these wings. Everytime I attempted to come up with a recipe for these puppies, something came up…and then it snowed. I keep my freezer stocked with many things, and giant bags of frozen chicken wings are definitely one of them. I have a thing for chicken in an amazing sauce. So, on this glorious snow day, I set out to come up with a version of these wings that would do the idea of them justice. Keep in mind that the key to amazing wings, is that they take time. You have to marinade them…in quality ingredients…for a while.
I wanted these wings to be smokey, salty/sweet, and tangy. So let’s start with the marinade. I was originally going to use bourbon, but I decided on a blended scotch instead, because I wanted them to be smokey. So, for the marinade, I mixed fresh orange juice, honey (better flavor than maple syrup, IMHO), scotch, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, mesquite seasoning, fresh cracked black pepper, and kosher salt. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a container or bag the perfect size to cover the chicken. Marinate for at least 12 hours, turning ever so often to make sure the wings are evenly marinated.
Once the wings are marinated (the longer the better), preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the wings on a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with cookie racks. You want to create the illusion of a roasting pan, by lifting the meat off of the tray, so they cook and brown evenly. DO NOT DISCARD THE MARINADE! Place the wings in the oven and and cook until they are golden brown and crispy. You’ll know they’re done when the skin starts to draw up at the ends of the drumsticks, about 45 minutes.
While the wings are cooking, in a saute pan over medium heat, cook at least 1 1/2 cups of chopped, thick cut bacon (you can use as much or as little bacon as you want, or leave it out altogether…although I don’t know why you’d do that), until the bacon is crispy, but not burnt. When the fat is rendered (melted), remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Add chopped onion (1 cup), and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to bacon grease (yea…I said it.), once onion is translucent, add 1/2 cup of honey and caramelize onions and garlic. Be sure to keep the mixture moving around the pan because it will start to feel like it’s burning. Remove pan from the fire and deglaze with 1 cup of scotch. The pan might catch on fire, DO NOT BE AFRAID, this is perfectly normal and it will die down immediately. Scrape the bits from bottom of the pan. All of that honey, bacon, almost burnt goodness…scrape it up. Let the mixture reduce until the pan is almost dry. Now, add 1 cup of orange juice, stir and let reduce until almost dry. Here’s the important part. Add the the marinade to the mixture and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. You have to bring it to a boil because it’s had raw chicken sitting in it for at least half a day, and none of us will ever know what little treasures sprouted during that time. The boiling process will kill any nasty little buggers that might be in there. (Read: Salmonella aka YUCK) Turn the heat back down to medium and add another cup of orange juice, and reduce until the sauce is about the consistency of honey, at this point, add the bacon back, minus a handful for garnish. The mixture will be nice and dark. Set aside until the wings are done.
Once the wings are done, toss them in the sauce, coating completely, and return them to the oven for ten minutes to caramelize the sauce. Once plated, pour out any excess sauce over the wings, and garnish with chopped parsley and leftover bacon. Reserve this recipe for people that you really love…you wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.