Monday, June 24, 2013

Orange and Ginger Caramelized Chicken Wings

Here we go, my first attempt at a Gordon Ramsay recipe. It was hard deciding which one to start with as he has so many available on the internet that look so good and really simple to prepare. The pile of wings I had in the freezer helped me decide.

Orange and Ginger Caramelized Chicken Wings
adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape found at
click to print

3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
6–8 shallots, peeled and sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and bashed
2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
zest and juice of 2 oranges
3/4 c granulated sugar
2/3 c water
2 tbsp fish sauce
2.2 lbs chicken wings
sea salt
crushed black pepper
green onion, optional for garnish

That there's most everything, ready to rock and roll. Look at that bowl of sugar!

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in a pan.

Add the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and orange zest and cook for 2–3 minutes, until the ingredients have softened.

Once the ingredients were added to the oil and stirred, I realized the lemongrass was just going to continue sitting on top of everything else instead of mingling. Fishing them out immediately, I quickly cut them to stirrable lengths (1.5-2 inches) and returned them to the pan. 

Add the sugar, water, orange juice, and fish sauce and stir to dissolve.

Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened. This should take 3–4 minutes and the sauce should start turning syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

I let it continue simmering as it didn't appear to reduce at all.

Meanwhile, place a large frying pan over a high heat and add 3–4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In batches, sear the pieces for 3 minutes, until browned.

You'll want to get the splatter screen out if you have one. Don't wait until the second batch of chicken, find it before you start. 

Transfer the chicken wings to an ovenproof dish and pour over the caramel sauce, mixing well to coat.

Bake wings in the oven 40–45 minutes until golden brown and sticky. Halfway through cooking, baste the chicken wings.

Twenty minutes in, I realized that my wings weren't going to have the texture I was looking for if they continued to steam in this pile of juice. They were transferred to a baking sheet and the sauce poured over before returning to the oven.

Remove the chicken wings from the oven.

Season with sea salt and crushed black pepper and serve with the sauce spooned over if you like.

This is excellent chicken! I can definitely see doing this with drums and/or thighs too. The orange is a nice prominent flavor with just a mild hint of lemon from the lemongrass, which I'm glad I finally tried. Caramelized, the lemongrass, orange zest, and ginger pieces were like bits of candy accentuating the sticky wings.

Now the nuts and bolts. The sauce wasn't reduced a whole lot after a few minutes. I let it continue simmering for 30 minutes, right up until I poured it over the chicken which I had dragged my feet to brown, and it still hadn't reduced much at all. I think the pan shouldn't have been a saucepan but a skillet. I'm glad I switched from the baking dish to a baking sheet. That really allowed the sauce to thicken and become more caramelized. Some of the skin was even crispy which was a surprise considering how saucy the dish was.

It is a really sweet sauce and I'd probably cut back on the sugar a bit to allow the citrus to have more of a bang. When measuring the sugar, 150 grams, my eyes got bigger and bigger as I kept spooning it into the tared prep bowl. Instead of 3/4 cups, I'd maybe do 2/3 or even as low as 1/2 a cup.

I'm not really thrilled with the fish sauce I used. It wasn't very pungent and didn't give the big salty boost in flavor as I'd expected.

Overall, a win. I look forward to doing this again and trying additional Ramsay recipes.

  • vegetable oil: $0.24
  • shallots: $2.15
  • garlic cloves: $0.32
  • lemongrass: $0.90
  • fresh ginger: $1.61
  • oranges: $1.14
  • sugar: $0.30
  • fish sauce: $0.50
  • chicken wings: $5.48
Total: $12.64 or about $3.16 for each of four servings.