Pizza is by far one of the most versatile foods in existence. Enjoyed fresh, it’s the perfect substitute for a real lunch or a real dinner. Served cold, it makes up for breakfast or any other occasion for which you are too lazy to put pants on. Pizza even caters to those that live on the fringes of our society: vegetarians, gluten-sensitive individuals, lactose-intolerant people, and even goths. So obviously, that makes pizza a very desirable product – in fact so desirable that pretty much all places making pizza deliver it right to your front door.
What, then, prevents people from eating pizza three times a day, every single day of the week, for 365 days a year? If you’ve ever watched “My 600lb Life,” you’d know the answer to that in a heart-beat. But more realistically, it’s probably because you never want to tip the delivery driver…or at least not 3 times a week to the point where the driver gets to know you on a first name basis. It’s a terrible reason, but in the grand scheme of things that’s probably the only basis on which the average person can achieve their ideal pizza-consumption-equilibrium, a term I just made up to describe the appropriate amount of pizza consumption in relation to the money you want to give the delivery driver.
Linguistically speaking, the pizza-consumption-equilibrium is sound science, only to be refuted by actual science and basic common sense. The more you pay the delivery driver, the less pizza you get to consume. That bastard may as well take a slice out of your pizza on the way out and call it a day. That, and only that, is preventing the vast majority of people (or just me) from buying pizza all the time. But the tides have turned, and the plot has just thickened: meet my new best friend, the newest member of the Domino’s family and the official 400th store opened in Canada:
Fun-fact: That potted plant you see on the window sill is actually some celery I managed to re-grow from the butt-end of one I used to make soup once…I call him Steve.
In case you’re wondering where I took the picture above from, that’s the view I have when I open my fridge door in despair, looking for just about anything to eat. Domino’s has literally opened up shop right across my street, removing the oh-so-important piece of the equation balancing my pizza-consumption-equilibrium: the delivery driver.
To make matters worse, Domino’s not only sells pizza these days, they’ve added pasta, wings, and breaded chicken (basically anything that you can stuff in a pizza oven and still call food) alongside their famous breadsticks and garlic-fingers. So not only can I conveniently order the three staples of my diet (fried chicken, pizza, and pasta) over the phone with relative ease, I can now cut out the middle man and walk no further than 100 steps* to pick up my food. You think not grabbing that bag of chips or candy out of your pantry is exercising self-control, try living across a god-damn Domino’s.
All is not well in my personal hell, however, which leads us to today’s post – making amazing salt and pepper wings. Last weekend I had the pleasure of having a friend from Boston come visit me, and in a drunken stupor we decided it would be great to take advantage of the brand-spanking new Domino’s across the street and order us some wings. Making the order was easy, picking it up was a breeze as well. My name conveniently showed up as “Rash” on the huge display inside the store showing pending orders, and in a matter of 15 minutes in-and-out we had ourselves two boxes of piping-hot wings.
Although Dominos got our order wrong, served its wings in a shoddy cocoon of aluminum foil, and mistook my name for a skin-condition affecting the majority of obese Americans, there was a more conspicuous issue I had with our food that evening: it just wasn’t any good. The wings were soaked in BBQ sauce, the skin was soggy, and the meat was the wrong kind of moist. If I wasn’t as inebriated as I was that evening, I would have been very, very upset.
All is not lost though, because I’ve finally discovered a fool proof method to baking (whaaa? You read right, baking) the perfect wings and have them come out as though they’re deep-fried. So without further ado, here’s how to make perfect crunchy salt and pepper wings.
Crispy Baked Chicken Wings
Wings have two very distinct textures depending on the method you use to prepare them: crunchy and soggy. Deep-fried wings have the perfect amount of crunch to moisture ratio, but have too many of those wings and you might just meet your maker – considering they’re relatively unhealthy compared to other cooking methods. Then there’s pan-fried wings – the type that you make because you feel empowered after watching an episode of Martha Stewart’s “Everyday Food”. My experience with pan-fried wings has been that they’re generally nice and crunchy on the outside, but too moist on the inside (for my liking at least).
Other than BBQ-ing your wings, something I’ve tried once and ended up almost burning my house down because of wild BBQ-drippings, there’s baking. Baking wings sounds odd, and if you do it wrong generally tastes odd, too. The trick with baking wings is that you need to have enough time and patience to get it just right, and I’ll show you what you need to do that.
What you’ll need
- 1kg of wings (frozen or thawed)
- Seasoning Salt (Hy’s Seasoning Salt is pretty good)
Obviously I’ll be making my favourite kind of wings – salt and pepper. But using this method you can do any other kind of wings as well by slapping whatever type of seasoning you want on the finished wings.
The first step to making wings is to preheat your oven to 380 degrees. At the same time you’ll want to cover a baking pan with wax paper and get some paper towels ready to pat the chicken wings dry.
Make sure not to upset the feng-shui of your kitchen – else you’ll end up making crappy tasting wings. True story!
Next it’s time to pat the wings dry and to place them onto the baking tray.
Once dry, place the wings on the baking pan with their skin up. Or their most skin-iest part up. Also try to place them in a way where they don’t touch – not because of chicken cooties, but more practically so that two pieces wont fuse together while baking.
Notice all the skin? That’s what I meant when I said skin-side up.
Lastly, you’ll want to place your pan on the top third rack in your oven. When you’re done, set a timer for 40 minutes, because that’s when we’ll take the wings out and turn them over to get all-around crunchy.
I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t have to be on that rack, but I preheated my oven and the racks were too hot to move.
40 minutes in, your wings should be looking like this:
I couldn’t help but sing Adele’s “Hello” when I was turning them over.
At this point you’ll want to carefully turn them around without getting too much skin stuck on the wax-paper. After all, that’s the reason we’re making the wings in the first place. When you’re done, you’ll need to put the wings back into the oven for another 20 minutes. If your wings were frozen when you started out, add another 20 minutes to the total.
Here’s a view of the over-turned wings. I’m pretty sure you could eat them like this, too, but they’ll definitely fall into the soggy, but cooked, category.
Once they’re out of the oven a second time, you’re ready to transfer them to a bowl for seasoning.
You’ll notice that theywings have shed most their moisture and are now very deep-friedesque. When you drop them into your bowl, they should sound somewhat hollow – and I don’t mean your countertop by that. Ta-da!
When seasoning, don’t be shy to go bananas. When it comes to salt and pepper wings, I’m always of the opinion that the more salt you have, the merrier the wings are.
Lastly toss the wings about wildly to coat them evenly.
These wings taste amazing; they’re crunchy as though they were deep fried and they consistently turn out the same way. I can’t remember a time where I’ve accidentally bitten my own finger twice trying to get as much of the meat off the bones as I did with these. Even though the wings taste great on their own, they pair nicely with any kind of dressing you have on hand, especially ranch.
They’re infinitely better tasting than the Domino’s variety, although they take about 45 minutes longer to make – a small sacrifice for great wings. Because this recipe is so easy, I’ve gotten into the habit of portioning a couple of bags of frozen wings in my freezer for whenever I’m feeling too lazy to make anything else.
These wings are great, and I would definitely make them again, or all the time. An hour is an hour, but if I’m really craving wings, I would not go to Domino’s again by any means.
At the end of the day, I’ve realized that I just don’t have the self-control required to live across a Domino’s. They may have terrible wings, but they have mediocre to good pizza that a lazy Arash just can’t turn down. To give an example of that, in the writing of this anti-Domino’s post (albeit against their wings, not their pizza), I ended up buying 2 different pizzas – one whilst writing this post, and another when reviewing it. There’s unfortunately no winning when they give you 50% off as a student on any bread-based product. Whoever wrote the story of David and Goliath clearly didn’t live across a Dominos.
So the only thing I can do is break up with Dominos, and not in the good-old fashioned face-to-face way where there’s crying (mostly by me) and screaming (also by me), but in the undignified way where I block their website from my network and unsubscribe from their email mailing list. They should get the hint, right? I could really go for some break-up pizza now, though,….
* An asterisk? What? Yea, that’s right, we’re doing asterisks now. For the sake of scientific accuracy, I actually counted how many steps it takes to walk to Dominos, and you know what I found out? You don’t nearly burn enough calories to justify upgrading your medium pizza to an extra large.