Want it sweeter? Use more honey and less Balsamic vinegar. And vice versa. Even the level of heat can be modified by using only half of the chili. What aren’t so flexible are the preparation and cooking methods.
You need to give the chicken wings time to absorb the lemon pepper seasoning. The good news is that chicken wing meat is not that thick — much less thicker than the meat of thighs and breast. An hour of marinating is sufficient. But that’s the minimum. If you have the time anyway, overnight works best.
Note that the salt content of commercial lemon pepper seasonings varies from one brand to another. If your lemon pepper seasoning is not that salty, you may need to use more than a tablespoon of rock salt to create a good balance.
Frying the chicken is for texture so you’re not cooking the chicken through during this stage. After frying, the chicken wings should just be about 80% cooked. Don’t skip the frying part though. Two reasons.
First, frying is what gives the chicken wings such great texture. If you skip frying, the chicken wings will have the mouth feel of boiled meat, and that is not very attractive. Second, the flour that coats the chicken is what thickens the sauce during the braising stage.
This is a one pan-dish. You fry the chicken, make the sauce and braise the chicken in the same pan. After the chicken had been fried, you just scoop them out and pour off the oil (which, of course, you may reuse at another time). But don’t throw out the browned bits that have sunk to the bottom of the pan. That’s flavor and you want that to get mixed into the sauce.
When the sauce has simmered and reduced a bit (don’t wait for it to thicken too much), you add the chicken and toss them around until the flour that coats the chicken wings have thickened the sauce. By the time you get to that stage, the chicken is cooked all the way through.
Chili honey balsamic sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions
- 1 bird's eye chili thinly sliced
Marinate the chicken
- Wipe the chicken wings dry with paper towels.
- Dump the chicken wings into a bowl, add the lemon pepper seasoning and salt, and mix well.
- Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken wings in the fridge for an hour.
Fry the chicken wings
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Transfer the marinated chicken wings to a resealable bag, add the flour and shake well.
- Over medium heat, fry the chicken wings, in batches if your pan is not so large, until lightly browned and crisp.
- Transfer the fried chicken wings to a plate lined with paper towels.
Braise the chicken
- Pour off the oil from the pan (do not discard browned bits that may be attached to the bottom) leaving only about a tablespoonful.
- Saute the garlic and chili until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the honey and balsamic vinegar.
- Boil everything together for a minute to reduce the sauce a bit.
- Turn up the heat to high and add the fried chicken to the sauce and cook, tossing often, for three to four minutes or until the sauce is thick and coats every piece of chicken nicely. That should be just enough time for the chicken wings to get cooked all the way through.
Serve your chili honey Balsamic chicken wings
- Ladle rice into four bowls and divide the chicken wings among them.
- Sprinkle the chicken with scallions, sesame seeds and sliced chili before serving.