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Recipe: Chicken wings two ways, perfect for busy Alaska summers

Kim Sunée
Green onions, garlic and ginger combine for a base of classic Asian flavors in Sticky Sesame Garlic Wings.
Kim Sunée photo
Dial in the heat to your liking by removing seeds and membranes, by holding back a pepper or two, or just going full blast in the Alaska summer sun.
Kim Sunée photo
Bright bell peppers and chiles combine to make a vivid sauce for Spicy Butter Chicken Wings.
Kim Sunée photo
Crisp up those wings on the grill for a classic bit of summer flavor.
Kim Sunée photo
Spicy Butter Chicken Wings finished and awaiting hungry fingers.
Kim Sunée photo
Lime wedges and cilantro are great edible garnishes to supplement sticky sesame wings, but celery greens are an excellent choice, too.
Kim Sunée photo

It seems that summer is finally here, and along with the season comes al fresco dining, grilling (a Father’s Day favorite activity), and lots of other outdoor adventures. Everyone loves finger food, so take some time to make a few batches of hot wings and serve them up for picnics, while camping, or as a post-fishing snack. I even have a friend who loves to eat any leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg and thick toast for sauce sopping.

Originally, it’s thought that the Buffalo wing was deep fried, coated with sauce, and served with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. These recipes from my test kitchen (and approved by women, kids, and hungry men alike) are a lot easier since the wings are slow-roasted; you can always toss them on the grill for a last minute crisping. And why not make the most of the flame and throw on some vegetables such as asparagus spears, halved endive, or zucchini slices to serve as well?

The techniques are the same in both, but the wings get dressed up differently. Feel free to experiment with your favorite flavors.

Spicy Butter Chicken Wings

(Remove seeds from chiles for a less intense heat.)
4 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and split at the joints, if desired*
1 orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
4 small Serrano chiles or 2 habanero, stems removed and seeded if desired
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon liquid honey
2 cloves garlic
1 medium to small ripe tomato, such as Roma
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Rinse wings and pat dry. Remove wing tips and discard (or reserve for making chicken stock). *If desired, split chicken wings at joints and separate. Season wings evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°.

2. Combine orange bell pepper, serrano or habanero, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, honey, garlic, and tomato in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Pour about 1 1/4 cups mixture over wings and stir, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, to coat wings evenly. Place wings back into 350° oven and roast another 20 to 25 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Heat remaining 1/2 cup sauce and serve wings with extra sauce, fresh lime wedges, and celery sticks.

NOTE: If desired, finish the wings off on a hot grill for a few minutes to get wings even crispier.

Sticky Sesame Garlic Wings

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 (1 1/2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled
6 green onions, divided
2 to 3 cloves garlic
Pinch cayenne
2 tablespoons liquid honey or brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
Lime wedges, fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or use a non-stick roasting pan. Season wings with pepper, salt, and soy sauce. Bake for 30 minutes.

2. Combine ginger, 4 of the green onions, garlic, Cayenne, honey or brown sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender and blend to combine to smooth paste. Pour mixture into a small sauce pan over medium heat and stir until sugar, if using, is dissolved and liquid is syrupy, about 5 minutes.

3. Reduce oven heat to 350°. Pour ginger-green onion mixture over wings and stir to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and place wings back in oven and roast another 20 to 25 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Pile wings onto a large serving platter and garnish with remaining 2 green onions, thinly sliced and some lime wedges and chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Related deliciousness

Longhorn Tequila Wings from Food52

Thai Wings from Rasa Malaysia

Wild Duck Buffalo Wings from Hank Shaw

Barbecued Buffalo Wings from Simply Recipes

Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings from Steamy Kitchen

Kim Sunée is the author of the national bestseller, "Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home." She worked as a food editor for the magazines Southern Living and Cottage Living, and her writing has appeared in Food & Wine, The Oxford American, and Asian American Poetry and Writing. She has appeared several times as a guest judge on Food Network’s "Iron Chef America" and is currently based in Anchorage, where she's working on a cookbook to be published in 2014. For more food and travel, visit www.kimsunee.com.