Crispy baked hot wings

Looking for the perfect game day food? This saucy Crispy Baked Hot Wings recipe comes out of the oven with a satisfying crunch. Crispy Baked Hot Wings

When September arrives with its chilly mornings — the ones that appear so suddenly, you wonder if Mother Nature has been peeking at your wall calendar — there’s a sudden shift. School’s back in session, so the lazy mornings of summertime give way to bus schedules, homework reminders and soccer practices — for the parents among us, at least. Traffic changes too as the tourists stop visiting so feverishly, and apple orchards overtake beach days. And at many homes — mine included — a cool weather tradition takes hold.

Sunday afternoons in my house are sacred. While Saturdays are reserved for errands, impromptu walks along the river and cleaning, Sundays are the day to relax, kick back and take a breath. And when afternoon falls, we watch football.

Truth be told, I am a huge football fan. Hand me a ball, and I will line my fingers up and toss a slow but serviceable spiral. Turn on a game, and I will be mesmerized by the action — especially if my favorite team is playing.

And if you talk to me long enough, you might just hear about that Super Bowl that I covered in Miami years ago — the one where my junior reporter and I managed to get on the field for the post-game celebration, standing beneath the confetti as the Indianapolis Colts were award the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It was incredible.

Before you get excited that my move from Connecticut to Maine means I must be a New England Patriots devotee – sorry, I’m not. Growing up in New York, the New York Giants are my home team, and when they are on I watch. But while I do don the blue and red on occasion, there is another team that captured my heart decades ago and has never let go. They’re the ones I claim as my own.

My team? They’re from Oakland.

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Oh, yes, that’s right. I am a proud member of the Raider Nation. And you can bet when the Patriots take on the Raiders in a few weeks, I’ll be watching and cheering. In the meantime, the National Football League’s opening day is Thursday, Sept. 4. The Green Bay Packers will take on the 2014 Super Bowl champs Seattle Seahawks — and I am more than a little excited. That means this weekend will usher in the season of pigskins and punts.

Hot Wings Recipe

I can’t think of a better time to share one of my very favorite game day snacks: hot wings. Because, come on, no matter what team you root for, the snacks are something we can all agree on. And really, even if football isn’t your bag, digging into delicious bites is still fun.

These Crispy Baked Hot Wings are for the spicy-loving crowd. I love habanero hot sauce, and found a Maine-made one for these that was incredible — Mother’s Mountain’s Habanero Heaven. Of course, you can make them a little less fiery by using a milder hot sauce. I can’t imagine why you’d want to though.
Making Baked Hot Wings

Making these is a bit of a process, but it’s a totally worthwhile one. First, you toss the wings in a seasoned flour and then spray them with cooking oil spray. After baking in the oven for awhile, and a turn or two, they come out crisp and ready to be sauced. And the sauce? It’s a hot mix of habanero hot sauce, butter and a touch of brown sugar. Spicy, but rich — just the way it should be.

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If you like dipping your wings, serve these babies with buttermilk ranch and blue cheese dressing. And don’t forget the carrot sticks and celery — it’s practically a requirement. Of course, if you are anything like me, you’ll just head straight for the hot wings — no creamy dips required.

Crispy Hot Wings Recipe

You can bet that I’ll be whipping up batches of these on Sundays this fall. And this weekend I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I might catch the Raiders at the New York Jets game at 1 p.m. This football-lover wouldn’t miss it.

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Crispy Baked Hot Wings
serves 8

3 lbs uncooked chicken wings (tips removed, and pieces separated)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground pepper
cooking oil spray
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil (or parchment, but I prefer nonstick aluminum foil). Spray with cooking oil spray.

Rinse the chicken wings in cool water and pat dry.

Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and chili powder. Place in a drudging dish (or shallow bottom bowl/plate with a big lip). Dip each wing in the flour, flipping to coat on both sides and then tap gently to remove excess. Arrange on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the wings have been coated. Spray liberally with cooking oil spray.

Bake for 20 minutes. Then, use tongs to carefully flip all the wings. Bake for an additional 20-22 minutes, until golden on each side.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the butter, hot sauce and brown sugar until well combined. Bring to a boil and continue whisking for 3-5 minutes until smooth.

Remove the wings from the oven and toss with hot sauce mixture. Enjoy immediately.

Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News, and resident cook. Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, Glamour.com and more.