Lemon Pepper Chimichurri Wings
By: Jack Mancuso
I suspect that even some of the best cooks ask the question, what the heck is a “wet” chicken wing? The answer is more straightforward than you might think. A wet lemon pepper wing is simply an order of wings with more luscious lemony sauce on your chicken.
It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, having wing cravings don’t subside. They’ve become a comfort food and are perfect for many gatherings. Online, sticker shock emerges when you search for the best wings near you. What used to be a biproduct has a gourmet price tag! So why not make them yourself?
Wet vs. Dry Wings: The Face-Off
There are two distinct schools of thought regarding chicken wings of any flavor. Should they be dry and crunchy or tossed in a rich, flavorful sauce? Do not bring up this question at the dinner table unless you want a hardy (and sometimes heated) debate.
There’s something really satisfying about biting into a lemon pepper chicken wing and hearing that defined crunch. But since this recipe starts with frying the wings, there will still be a crispy element at the foundation. From there, you’re just building more flavor.
Before going further, please realize there is a massive difference between a wet chicken wing and a soggy one. The best wet wings achieve a balance between maintaining the skin’s crunch and the sauce ratio. Don’t overdo it!
You are going to need far more napkins for wet wings vs. fried. So, bring your bib and napkins! Jack says, “if you don’t need hand wipes after wet wings, you didn’t use enough sauce!
How to Separate Chicken Wings
Not all bags of chicken wings come in a ready-to-fry form. Some need “disassembly.” So, if you’re looking at a bunch of whole chicken wings, here’s what you do.
- Place the chicken wing on your cutting board skin-side down. If you don’t have a good cutting board, here are some guidelines for buying one.
- Get out your handy, dandy Chef Knife
- Look at the wing. Find the first ridge between the drum and wing portion.
- Cut across the ridge (longways) just beside that connection point.
- Now find the ridge between the wingette and tip. Cut through to separate those two pieces.
- Now you’re ready to cook!
Drums vs. Flats
You know the annual discussion that breaks out around Thanksgiving over dark meat and light meat? It’s pretty much the same with chicken wing drumettes and flats. What’s the difference?
Drumettes look like a baby drumstick. Wingetts (flats) come from the middle of a whole chicken wing. The tips are the pointy end of the entire wing, consisting primarily of bone, cartilage, and skin.
People who adore crispy skin typically reach for the flats. Meanwhile, drumette aficionados say they are more flavorful.
IMO, Chicken wing tips aren’t really worth fussing over. Toss them in a freezer bag for your next batch of stock.
Wet Lemon Pepper Wing Ingredient List
2 pounds chicken wings
3 tbs lemon pepper seasoning mixed with flour
¼ tsp. coarse black pepper
Lemon Pepper Wing Directions:
- Dry your wings using a paper towel
- Toss them with lemon pepper and flour until evenly coated
- Deep fry in oil (375 degrees) for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Toss in Chimichurri sauce. Top with chives for presentation.
Fresh Chimichurri Sauce Ingredients
1 Fresno red hot pepper
1 Long hot pepper
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
¾ tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
Fresh parsley and/or cilantro to taste
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Lemon pepper to taste
Barbecue rub to taste*
* This can be any barbecue rub you like, but if you find one with citrus or black pepper notes, it will tie everything together.
Chimichurri Sauce Directions
If possible, I recommend preparing your Chimichurri Sauce at least one day before use. It helps marry the flavors.
Mix all the ingredients together. It should look a bit like a salad dressing with lots of herbs. Remember, you don’t want it too wet.
This particular sauce works great as a marinade, too.
Tips & Tricks
Serve with lemon wedge slices so each person can get that fresh, tangy flavor.
Really, you can use the basic approach to the Chimichurri with any wet mix you desire. Sprinkle the wings with mango habanero powder and serve tossed in fresh pico or salsa, for example.
Chicken wings are very adaptable. I can think of a dozen (or more) side dishes you could make along with your wet lemon pepper wings, including:
- Avacado fries
- Crunchy green beans
- Fried, seasoned rice
- Lentil salad with lemon dressing
- Smoked deviled eggs
- Stuffed mini peppers
Pit Master’s Memo
So, you’ve committed yourself to making wet lemon pepper wings fresh for a gathering. But how many should you buy? In my experience, a baker’s dozen is a healthy portion per person as a main dish.
Making deep-fried wings can be a little tricky. If you’re concerned about undercooked wings, you can pre-cook them in the oven or air fryer, then transfer them into the oil.
A little bit of trivia: Americans eat approximately 1.4 billion wings on Super Bowl Sunday.
From the Bar
Bourbon & Coke
Pale Ale or an IPA
Pineapple Ginger Sparkler (nonalcoholic)