Tender, juicy chicken coated in a crunchy, spice-infused crust, dusted in a fiery, smoky salt; these Southern fried chicken wings don’t hold back on flavour.
Steeping the wings in a salty buttermilk mix, as inspired by J. Kenji-Lopez Alt’s terrific recipe, not only infuses the meat deeply with salty deliciousness, it also helps tenderise it, ensuring that every bite through that crunchy crust lands in beautifully juicy meat.
With a crust already packed with a flavourful (and not-so-secret) mix of herbs and spices, these wings are sprinkled with salt infused with smoky chipotle powder and the intensely spicy ghost chilli powder, giving these handheld flavour bombs even more of an explosive blast.
While we’ve used wings for this recipe, you can substitute drumsticks, thighs, breasts or any other piece of chicken. Simply adjust the frying time accordingly.
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One day before cooking, combine the brine ingredients in a large bowl and stir until salt has dissolved (you can add a few good splashes of your favourite hot sauce at this point to make things extra spicy). Toss through the chicken well, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, mix the breading ingredients together using a whisk in the largest bowl you have.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk brine and drop into the breading mix; don’t worry if a couple of tablespoons of buttermilk make their way into the flour- this will help create extra crunchy bits on the outside of your wings. Toss the chicken well until completely coated in breading mix, pressing it onto the skin where needed.
Leave the chicken in the bowl for at least 20 minutes to help the breading adhere to the chicken while it’s being fried.
Heat your oil to 180C in a deep fryer or heavy-based pan, then carefully add a few pieces of chicken, taking care not to crowd the pan. The temperature should drop to around 150C-160C. Adjust the temperature to keep it within that range while cooking, then let it rise to 180C again before adding more chicken.
Leave the chicken undisturbed in the fryer for two minutes, then turn to ensure all sides are being evenly cooked.
Remove wings from the oil when golden brown and cooked through (around 7 minutes, 5 minutes if using breast pieces), and transfer to a baking rack to rest for a few minutes.
Combine the ingredients for the chilli salt, adding as much (or as little) ghost chilli powder as you like. Use care, however- the powder is incredibly spicy.
Transfer the wings to a serving plate and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Serve with a cooling coleslaw and a dish of ranch or blue cheese sauce.