- 4 habanero peppers, halved, seeds and ribs removed (for hotter wings, they can be left in)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- kosher salt
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 cup chunky peach preserves
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- 3 pounds chicken wings, patted dry
I love this recipe because it revisits familiar flavors but adds different contrasts to the mix such as smoke, confit onion and garlic (an ode to chef Esther Choi's "Chili Soil") and charred habanero. Bonus: There's even more texture, thanks to the use of chunky peach preserves. The classic bourbon-peach flavor profile gains extra nuance and a hit of heat from the onions and other ingredients.
Technique tip: Make the confit over super low heat! Look for tiny bubbles in the oil — you don't want it to simmer or rapidly boil. Remove chicken when juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
Swap option: With no butter, this whole recipe can be made with just neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, etc.). If you cannot find fresh habanero peppers, 1/2 teaspoon of dried habanero can be substituted for each pepper. For spicier wings, don't remove the seeds and ribs from the peppers.
Preheat the broiler. Line a small baking dish with parchment paper. Place habanero peppers skin side up on parchment paper and coat with olive oil. Broil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Set aside.2.
Lower oven temperature to 350 F.3.
In a medium pot or saucepan set over medium-low heat, add neutral oil. When oil begins to shimmer slightly, add butter. Once melted, add onion and garlic and cook for 20 minutes. Add two pinches of salt and habanero peppers and continue to cook, 5 minutes more. Add the bourbon and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the peach preserves and cook for about 5 minutes until the onion, garlic and peppers are softened but not burned.4.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until mixture is smooth and uniform in consistency. Transfer to a large, non-reactive mixing bowl. Add soy sauce and liquid smoke and stir to combine. Allow sauce to cool and thicken slightly.5.
Once sauce is cooled, add chicken wings and, using tongs, toss to coat thoroughly.6.
Line a large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper and place wings on sheet, leaving some space between wings. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until juices run clear after poking the wing with a fork.7.
Serve hot with dipping sauce of your choice.