About fifteen years ago, Aunt Patty scribbled her recipe for chicken wings on an index card and clutched it into my hands with the urgent instruction Don’t Lose This. The way she said it and the way those wings tasted, I figured it was some secret family recipe that went back generations. I didn’t lose the recipe, but I never made the wings either. Somehow I had a sense that this was one of those things that wouldn’t have tasted the same had anyone else attempted to cook them for me. The title of the recipe was “La Brea Tar Pit Chicken Wings” so named because they were dark, sticky, and gooey and I had pretty much forgotten about them until a few weeks ago when I was flipping through my Gourmet Cookbook in search of a dinner we could eat with our fingers in front of the Super Bowl. Turns out Patty’s wings hadn’t quite earned the secret family recipe status I had conferred upon them all these years, because they were! Right there on page 55! (And submitted by some imposter in Boston named Metta Miller! What??) I felt a little better when I finally read the recipe and saw how easy it was, how perfect it was for the kind of meal I craved that night: minimal hands-on time, and something that worked equally well with chocolate milk and Guinness.
This is from The Gourmet Cookbook. It makes 48 wings, but for our Super Bowl dinner I halved it since it was only five of us. (The family plus Todd.) I added a few drumsticks to the mix, since Abby has never met a drumstick she didn’t propose to.
2 pounds chicken wings split at joint and wing tips or 8 drumsticks (or some combination of both)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange wings in one layer in a roasting pan. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over moderately low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour evenly over wings and drumsticks. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake until sauce is thick and sticky, about 1 hour more. They are supposed to be dark and gooey, but start checking them at about 45 minutes so they don’t get more charred than you prefer.