Story and images by Karyl Henry, karylskulinarykrusade.com
My job at OSU is very seasonal. Most of the year, my days are pretty standard Monday-Friday, 8-5. Then August hits, and everything changes. Twelve to fourteen hour days, constantly on the run, and lots of time up in the stadium…it’s all the norm. No complaints though, because that just means it’s almost football season. College football is my favorite sport, so even though I don’t get to watch the game as a fan, I’m still a part of the energy and experience of gameday. And gameday makes the long hours of prep worth it. Many people assume my next career step is a professional sports team. But there’s nothing quite like home football game weekends, especially in small college towns like Stillwater. Sure, fans tailgate for pro football games, and the teams have very loyal fan bases. But it’s just not the same.
The one major drawback to my job is that I don’t get to enjoy the gameday experience; I’m at work before dawn, on my feet most of the day, and I’m “on” from the time the gates open until the stadium is empty. When we have a night game, I do get to spend a little time at my friends’ tailgate, but when I’m heading back inside to get to work, more friends are beginning to arrive. So I have to leave right when the real fun is about to start.
The best part about tailgating, other than catching up with friends, is the food. I have to say, one of the main reasons I go to my friend’s tailgate when we have a night game is for the food…I get out there in time to help them finish setting up, and then I make sure to taste test a little of everything.
Chicken wings is one of my favorite types of finger food. They work great for tailgates, parties, or just a meal at home. When I’m at restaurants, it is often a go-to appetizer. If they’re the large and meaty wings, I’ll eat them as my entree. I like chicken wings naked, with sauce, or dry dusted. I’m also a 100% drummette girl. Most restaurants do a combination of wing portions and drummettes, and I always go straight for the drummettes. They have more meat, and a much more significant bite.
About 2 months ago I made my first chicken wings recipe. I never knew until recently that you could buy raw wings at the grocery store. I always bought the pre-seasoned and pre-flavored wings in the frozen food section; raw wings are available in both the frozen and fresh meat sections. I also learned that you don’t have to fry chicken wings; you can bake or even grill them, and still get the same wonderful and delicious flavor.
I love the bold flavors and colors in Asian cuisine, and decided to make Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings
These Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings are fabulous. The sauce has a definite kick from the chili, but the sweet side of the sauce helps to tone it down. The garlic doesn’t overpower the sauce at all, and the lime adds a very nice tart bite.
Let’s talk about the sauce for the Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings. You can find sweet chili sauce in every Asian grocery store, and also in many major grocery stores. I have a large bottle in my fridge all the time. However, I also found quite a few recipes online so I decided to try and make it myself. Besides, if it failed I had a backup.
BASIC SWEET CHILI SAUCE INGREDIENTS
- Chili: fresh chili peppers, chili flakes, or chili garlic sauce. I only had chili garlic paste on hand, so that’s what I used.
- Vinegar: apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or rice vinegar. To keep with the Asian concept, I used rice vinegar
I saw a couple of recipes that use honey, but I think that would make the sauce too sweet. Every recipe called for raw garlic. I considered roasted garlic, but I think that would significantly change the flavor of the sauce.
I followed the recipe directions, but the sauce refused to thicken. So I added some of the bottled sauce; it helped, but not enough. By then the wings were done and I was annoyed, so I did a 50-50 mixture of homemade and bottle. As I ate the wings I realized my problem…I forgot to add the cornstarch. Complete rookie error. I did taste the sauce while it cooked, before I added the bottled sauce, and it was perfect–except for the consistency. The chili garlic paste is more intense than the sauce, so it does add more of a kick. But that’s not a bad thing.
Making baked chicken wings is so simple, and you get the same crispy exterior as fried, but with less fat and fewer calories. The only oil is a drizzle of avocado or canola oil on the raw wings; it helps the seasoning adhere, and prevents the wings from burning in the oven. I season the wings very simply with salt, pepper, and a little lime juice. Once seasoned, place the wings on a baking rack on a lined baking sheet. Space out the wings, or they won’t crisp properly.
I put the wings in the oven for about 40 minutes; drizzled them with a little of the sweet chili garlic sauce, and cooked them for another 5 minutes. When you add the sweet chili garlic sauce the wings will sizzle and smoke. But not to worry, that’s a good thing.
After I remove the wings from the oven, I add them to the hot sweet chili garlic sauce and let them soak up the sauce for another 5 minutes. The final step is to top with another squeeze of lime juice, plus lime zest.
For best results, I recommend making Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings immediately before serving. If you need to make them ahead of time, it’s best to warm the wings back up before serving. I usually dip my wings in ranch or blue cheese, but I dip these Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings in the extra sweet chili garlic sauce. And let me tell you, more is definitely better.
Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings are great to make for a crowd, for lunch, or even just an afternoon snack. I will definitely make these more often, and I’m looking forward to trying more varieties of wings.
Sweet Chili Garlic Lime Chicken Wings from karylskulinarykrusade.com
- 2 lbs raw chicken wings
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil or canola oil
- Salt & pepper
- 2 limes
- SWEET CHILI GARLIC SAUCE
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ½ – 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or paste
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Trim off any excess pieces of skin from wings. Pat dry.
- Add wings to large bowl. Drizzle with oil and fresh lime juice, and turn to coat all pieces of chicken.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking rack in a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Place wings on baking rack. Be sure to leave space between wings, so they cook properly. Place baking sheet in oven.
- While wings cook, prepare Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce: add all ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for about 6-7 minutes until sauce thickens.
- After 40 minutes, drizzle wings with sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove wings from oven, and add wings to warm sauce. Let sit for about 5 minutes.