There are two types of people in the world. One that loves chicken breast pieces and the other that likes the leg pieces. But there is a subset that has risen above these two and evolved into a finer, more refined chicken lover. It’s the the wing lover! I know people who hate wings because there is so little flesh or too much bone, but for me, it’s the real deal. The tender juicy meat under the lovely layer of skin, oh even the thought makes me go weak in the knees!
Coming to the basics, I’m a chef and I first check out how well I can cook that cut of poultry. The whole wing can be divided into three parts — drummette, wingette and tip. The drummette is the part that attaches the wing to the breast. It’s a single, thicker bone which when fringed gives us the much adored lollipop. Next is the wingette, a little strip of flesh trapped between two thin bones, absolutely moist and juicy. The tip is usually the part that people discard or throw into stock, as it is gelatinous and does not have too much meat. Also, it tends to burn very fast. But if you are a rustic wing lover like me, you will cook the wings intact.
So let’s get down to business. I’m compiling a list for my fellow wing lovers who end up eating those horrid red drums of heaven and never get a chance to enjoy the bliss of eating regular chicken wings. Here’s my top seven favourite wings in the city...
Peri Peri Wings @ Barcelos
Firstly, full marks to this restaurant for being one of the very few outlets to serve wings uncut. The three parts are intact as I believe god wanted them to be. The chicken has its skin on, and is fire-cooked, so no thick batter here. I always choose the Supa Peri but you can have a milder sauce. The wings are moist and delicious.
Chicken Wings with Wine Jus @ Irish House
The comfort of a Sunday roast chicken with the fun of wings is like a match made in heaven! The meat is tender as it’s slow-cooked and the jus is spot on. Best paired with sangria.
Jerk Chicken Wings @ TGIF
If chicken wings aren’t enough, why don’t we just put them on skewers and alternate them with pineapple, grill them with a spice rub and just fly with the first bite! Again a non-fried variety, the skin has a beautiful texture because of the caramelisation, and the smokiness makes it just right.
Smoked and Grilled Wings @ Chili’s
This is the perfect wing for people who don’t like spice and also like to give the sugar-loaded barbecue a miss. It is plain, simple, juicy and simply put, an unadulterated bite of heaven. Again, it’s grilled, so no batter or flour. The skin crisps up well and the portion size is more than sufficient.
Barbecue Chilli Wings @ The Fat Monk
This kiosk in Salt Lake Sector I serves four variants in wings, but the barbecue chilli is my pick. The smoky flavours of barbecue are blended with dalle chillies from the Northeast. It is an absolutely divine combination. Coming from the same house as The Blue Poppy, this is a sure winner.
Sticky Korean Wings @ Hoppipola
The portion isn’t huge but the black, soy-based, caramelised sweet sauce just hits all the right notes. I don’t drink and I just go to this bar in Acropolis mall (or Mani Square) to eat the wings. Sometimes it comes topped with spring onions and sometimes with sesame. Both taste good.
Ghost Chilli Wings @ My Big Fat Belly
If you like it hot, this is the one. They have three grades of heat on offer and if you’re man enough, go for the soft juicy wings tossed in bhut jolokia chillies from Nagaland! Boy, this baby can make you sweat.
I’m also sharing a recipe of my home-cooked Honey Roasted Wings made with zero oil. It’s an absolute winner at all my parties!
For water glaze:
Chicken wings 1kg
Water 2 cups
Cinnamon powder 1tsp
Salt to taste
Cider vinegar 3tbsp
Cayenne pepper 3tsp
5 spice powder 1tbsp
Garlic paste 1tbsp
Fish sauce 1tsp
Heat all the ingredients for the glaze and bring to a boil.
Add the chicken wings at last and bring to a boil.
Strain and cool under a fan.
Mix all ingredients for the marinade and microwave for 30 seconds.
Rub it on the air-dried chicken wings and keep aside for an hour.
Cook on a grill in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Cook for 45 minutes covered and then 15 minutes uncovered.
The author is a chef who runs three restaurants in Calcutta — Bon Appetit (2008), Cafe Pranah (2014) and Paranthe Wali Galli (2016). The photographs have been clicked by him.
Which place would you add to this list? Tell [email protected]