I’ve never been a fan of wings. They’re usually too greasy and often drenched in a less-than-stellar barbecue sauce. Fatty, soggy chicken skin is something I usually remove, so wings just seemed like too much work and mess for the tiny bite of meat.
I was shown the light by our friend Jeff, owner of the local bar/restaurant The Wheelhouse. They host great bands on their big deck all summer and have a menu special from the outdoor grill. The kickoff concert is always the Spring Wing Ding Thing. Jeff bakes his wings, then finishes them on the grill. His honey-mustard wings are to die for: spicy, crisp, moist but not greasy.
Once the cold weather kicked in, I started experimenting with wings at home. Several recipes called for added fat in the form of butter or oil. Not only was this unnecessary, it resulted in greasy wings. Nix the fat. Next, I reduced the honey quite a bit. We liked the heat and tang of the mustard to shine; anything more than a touch of honey reduced the “wow!” flavor kick to “meh.” And in a complete turnaround from how I usually cook (more is more!), I eliminated all extra ingredients except wings, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.
Notes: 1. Cooking the wings on a rack allows the fat to drip onto the sheet pan underneath, keeping the skin crisp. Make sure there is a little space between each wing so air can circulate.
2. Trim the bony wing tips off and roast them too, then toss them in a bag in your freezer. They are a great addition to stock.
3. Season well with salt and pepper, and don’t apply the glaze until the wings are cooked and browned. The skin stays crisp, and the honey doesn’t burn.
Dijon-Glazed Chicken Wings
makes 12-18 wings, depending on size
5 lbs. bone-in chicken wings
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey (or to taste)