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Baking Soda – The Key to Crispy Baked Wings?

Crispy Chicken Wings | shared on www.myfoododyssey.com

Crispy chicken wings are one of those foods that seem to be universally loved. A hot wing, fresh from the frier or oven and ready for dipping into your favourite sauce, is a wonderful thing. The crisper the better for maximum crunch and all those little nooks and crannies to grab on to the sauce.

I don’t have a frier (by choice) and so always bake my chicken wings. Sometimes I do sticky wings, marinating in advance and baking the wings in the sauce. Other times I want a crispy wing and either bake them naked or with a light dusting of seasoned flour. These both work well, but I’ve always wanted them that little bit crisper. So I was delighted recently when I came across an article promising perfectly crisp wings by simple adding baking soda to the dusting mixture.

Friday night is treat-food night with us and we tend to cook things like burgers, pizza, curry and the like. Yesterday I decided to try the baking soda wings with a lovely fresh green salad. I made my usual dusting mixture – flour, garlic powder and smoked paprika – and added the baking soda. I wasn’t sure how much to add, but after a quick look at a handful of recipes online went with a tablespoon of baking soda for a kilo of wings. I popped them in the oven and busied myself with the salad while I waited for my perfect wings to cook.

Crispy Chicken Wings | shared on www.myfoododyssey.com

Photo by Pavel from Sydney, AU (Crispy Chicken Wings) CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My first impression was definitely one of pleasure – when I took the wings out to turn them over I could see they were crisping up beautiful. However, I was surprised to find that this lovely crisp skin peeled away from the flesh very easily. It looked crispy, but was actually a bit flabby. I soldiered on regardless, certain they would crisp up nicely by the time they were cooked. When the timer eventually beeped I piled them into a bowl and we sat down to eat. Arūnas took one bite – and his face dropped.

“What did you do to them?” he asked, his face pale and horrified. “I tried something new – to make them crispy!” I said with forced enthusiasm, but already the smell was beginning to hit me. I took a bite. And it was The. Foulest. Thing. I have ever tasted.

Firstly, the skin, which looked crispy, was not even a tiny bit crispy. It seemed to have been denatured by the baking soda and was soft and slimy. The meat also had a slimy texture and, while they were definitely cooked through, they were pink in at the bone, which was very off-putting. It was a different pink to when they’re undercooked – more towards purple, really. The taste was horrible – not a baking soda taste, but a rotten, ammonia taste. But the worst thing was the smell, particularly in at the bone. I had tried eating one or two without breathing, but on my third piece I got a good whiff of that smell – a smell I can’t even describe, it was that revolting – and that was it. The entire lot was quadruple-bagged and thrown into the bin. We both decided they were so disgusting we wouldn’t even give them to the dog.

Maybe I used too much soda. Maybe it works well if you just use a hint. I will not be investigating further. Back to flour-coated wings for me!

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lerato #

    Hi June, I tried this and mhhhhh scrumptious!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 8, 2018
    • Glad it worked out for you, Lerato! How much baking soda did you use?

      Like

      February 8, 2018
  2. Oh my goodness. When I began to read your blog I wondered how that was going to work out. I have added a little baking powder to give fried chicken a light crispy coating. If I could choose one type of meat to have for the rest of my life it would be chicken. I love it cooked any way you can cook it. I love your blog. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    February 7, 2018
    • You can’t beat chicken, especially crispy chicken – yum! I am quite sure I overdid it on the quantity of baking soda but the chemical reaction with the meat would put me off trying it again, even at low dosage. It won’t put me off chicken, though! Thanks for reading! 😀

      Like

      February 7, 2018
  3. Your description really made me laugh (Sorry June). A restaurant owning friend of mine spoke disparagingly about their own chicken. They use an egg wash and say that the longer they leave the chicken in the egg wash, the crustier the skin. The crustier the better the customers like it. They (and I) find the concept pretty off-putting. But, the customer seems to be always right!

    Liked by 1 person

    January 28, 2018
    • Glad I gave you a giggle, Conor! I wouldn’t like the sound of leaving chicken in egg wash for too long, either, especially if it dried out and crusted up. But as you say – the customer is always right!

      Liked by 2 people

      January 28, 2018
  4. Frank Sedzielarz #

    Try baking powder, that’s what’s usually recommended. It raises the pH and allows for better browning.A little bit goes a long way.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 28, 2018
    • Thanks, Frank. Yeah, I’ve seen both baking soda and baking powder popping up in recipes. To be honest, they’re not that different, with most baking powder containing a good proportion of baking soda. It was the chemical reaction of the bicarb with the meat that penetrated right to the bone that I found off-putting. A pinch in a batter would probably work well but I don’t think I would ever use it directly on the skin again, even in a low dosage.

      Like

      January 28, 2018
  5. Oh dear! Well, kudos to you for trying something new, despite the disappointing results.

    Liked by 1 person

    January 27, 2018
    • To be fair, it’s the first of my experiments to go so catastrophically wrong. We live and learn!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 28, 2018
  6. Dalia Smith #

    June, sorry to hear about your experiment with wings. But don’t despair. I do a lot of Chinese-type stir fry. I came upon a comment that baking soda will make the meat tender. I rubbed some soda on a bunch of “country style pork spare ribs” and let them sit for a few hours. At cooking time I washed off the soda very carefully, cut up the mean, removed much of the fat, and the stir-fry was out of this world. Cheap meat, but so delicious and tender. Tried the same technique with a cheap piece of beef, and had the same wonderful results. Just be sure to wash off the soda very carefully before cooking. Bon Appetit!
    Dalia Smith

    Liked by 1 person

    January 27, 2018
    • Thanks, Dalia. I can see how that might work – it definitely did make the chicken softer, just not in a pleasant way. Perhaps the result would have been different if I’d wash it off before cooking. I still can’t get the smell out of my nose, but when I recover I might try that with a small piece of meat!

      Liked by 1 person

      January 27, 2018
      • Dalia Smith #

        I hope you recover soon!

        Liked by 1 person

        January 27, 2018

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