I learned this awesome baking powder trick a few years ago (thank you, internet) for making baked chicken wings that you would swear were fried. The results are amazing—crispy skin with way less fuss and much easier cleanup. I’ve used this method at home for basic wings, plus these glazed wings I developed for a story I did for Southern Living. And last weekend, I tried making them with lots of toasty cumin flavor, borne from my love of cumin lamb. The results were, I must say, outstanding. The kids, the hubs, and I all went nuts for these wings. Scroll down below the recipe for tips and pointers. Oh, and I did not run nutrition analysis on these. Sorry, but when I’m having wings, I know I’m indulging. :-)
First things first: You need to prepare your pan. These wings do best when baked on parchment paper (I tried them on foil, and they weren’t as good). I don’t know why, but I’m sure some smart folks out there will understand the reason. Anyway, when they bake on parchment paper, you don’t need to fuss with arranging them on a wire rack or anything like that (one fewer dish to wash). But parchment paper is a little permeable, so some of the chicken drippings will seep through. I am lazy and don’t want this to happen, so I line my pan with foil first and then parchment—so I don’t have to wash anything!
Next, you need to toast and grind the cumin and peppercorns. I’m telling you—the flavor is so much better than if you start with pre-ground. Please trust me on this! Toast them in a hot skillet till they’re really fragrant. I wish you could smell these:
Once they’re toasted, let them cool off a bit and then grind them in a spice grinder (I use an ancient coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle if you like to go unplugged. Here’s the ground mixture:
Now, let’s talk about the chicken. I like to buy air-chilled chicken wings. One of the main benefits of air chilling is that the chicken does not take on excess water (as it would if it were brined), which means crispier skin. I found lots of big packs of air-chilled wings (maybe for football season?) at my local Whole Foods. The three-pound pack I bought cost $12.48. Seemed like a good price to me!
Anyway, even though the chicken is air-chilled, I still pat it dry with paper towels before tossing with spices. I just want the skin as dry as possible. I place it in a humongous bowl so that I can just shake the bowl to toss the chicken with the spices to coat.
Once the chicken is coated with the spice (and baking powder) mix, you need to arrange it on the prepared baking sheet with the fattier side down. Like this:
And this is what they look like when they’re done—super crispy with that incredible cumin flavor!
They’re so good that you might just eat them right off the pan! If you can control your urges, though, they work beautifully on a Snack Dinner tray, which is perfect for game day.