Sunday Dinner: Wings go better with Coke-flavoured sauce

Eric Akis

Every once in a while, I get a major-league craving for chicken wings, and soon after, I’m off to the supermarket to buy some. Before heading out, I’ll ponder what ingredients I’ll flavour them with, so I can shop for those items too.

When it comes to cooking wings, I’m always keen to try something new. While researching recipes this time, I came across ones that used an ingredient I had never used to flavour wings before: Coca-Cola.

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At first, I thought that sounded like a wacky idea, thinking that soda pop would overpower the wings and make them taste sickly sweet.

And yes, that would be true if Coca-Cola was all that one used to flavour the wings. But when that beverage, which I find has hints of caramel, vanilla and citrus in its taste, is blended with other ingredients, they balance its sweetness and, taste wise, good things start happen.

The wing recipes I found that incorporated Coca-Cola came in two different styles. One was Chinese in origin and first saw wings seared or deep-fried in oil. The wings were then braised in and glazed with a Coca-Cola mixture that contained such things as soy sauce, ginger, green onion and Chinese cooking wine.

The other type of wing recipe I found that used Coca-Cola was North American in style. In this case, the beverage was used to flavour a barbecue sauce that you brushed on the wings after they were cooked, often by grilling.

Both methods looked like they would create tasty wings. But I thought they would be even tastier with elements from both techniques, and that’s exactly what I did in today’s recipe.

To simplify things, rather than sear or deep-fry the wings, I tossed them with oil and roasted them in a hot oven. The wings were then braised and glazed in an Asian-style barbecue sauce that was flavoured with sweet Coca-Cola, salty soy sauce, spicy chili sauce, tart vinegar, pungent garlic and aromatic ginger and sesame oil.

I must say the combination was quite delicious. I couldn’t stop eating those wings!

To create a meal, you could serve the wings with steamed rice and steamed broccoli or other green vegetable. Or, for a more of North American-style meal, serve the wings with baked potatoes and tangy coleslaw. If you don’t already have food planned, you could also enjoy these wings while watching the Super Bowl today.

Wings with Asian-style Coca-Cola BBQ Sauce

Chicken wings roasted and then simmered and glazed with a sweet, sour and spicy sauce spiked with Coca-Cola. You could half or double this recipe, if desired.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

Makes: 30 wings

For the sauce

12 oz (1, 355 mL can) Coca-Cola (see Note 1)

3/4 cup smoky-tasting barbecue sauce (I used Bulls-Eye brand)

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp hot Asian-style chili sauce, such as Sriracha, or to taste

2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, minched

For the wings

30 chicken wingettes or drumettes, or a mix of both (see Note 2)

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds, or to taste (see Note 3)

2 or 3 green onions, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place sauce ingredients in a very large skillet (mine was 12 inches wide) or shallow and wide pot (see Note 4).

Set pan over medium-high heat and bring sauce to a gentle simmer. Simmer sauce five minutes, then remove from the heat and set it aside for now.

Line a large baking sheet (mine was 18 by 13 inches), or two smaller ones, with parchment paper. Place wings in a bowl with the oil and toss to evenly coat the chicken. Arrange wings in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season the wings with salt and pepper. Roast wings 20 minutes. Now turn each wing over and roast 10 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove wings from the oven.

Set the pan with the sauce over medium heat and return to a simmer. Add the wings, turn to coat with the sauce, and simmer five to seven minutes, until sauce thickens a bit and starts to cling to the wings. During this process, carefully turn the wings occasionally, trying not to break the skin on the wings.

Lift wings from the pan with tongs and arrange on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce on the wings. Now sprinkle wings with sesame seeds and green onion. Serve any leftover sauce in the pan in a bowl for dipping.

Note 1: Don’t use Diet Coke in this recipe; its flavour and aftertaste won’t blend as well with the other ingredients.

Note 2: Chicken wingettes are the middle portion of the wing near the tip. Chicken drumettes are the meaty section attached to the breast. Most groceries stores sell chicken wings cut this way.

Note 3: Roasted sesame seeds are sold in bags or bottles at some supermarkets. If you can’t find them, cook regular sesame seeds in a skillet set over medium heat a few minutes, until lightly toasted.

Note 4: If you don’t have a very large skillet or wide pot, divide the sauce and roasted wings between two smaller pans.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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