Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings with Carrots (an everyday favorite)

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This is another everyday go-to dish around here. Chicken wings are not nearly as cheap as I remember them being during my frugal student days, due to the popularity of things like Buffalo wings. They’re still a pretty good deal though. While we love crispy oven-fried wings and such, these deeply flavored braised wings are a great leave-to-cook favorite, especially when the weather gets cold.

This is a dish that is very easy to throw together. The only effort involved is in browning the wings and roughly chopping up the vegetables. Besides carrots, you can put in onions, potatoes, turnips, and other root vegetables, though my preference is to keep it relatively simple so that the chicken is the main player, rather than it being a stew. It can be cooked on the stovetop or in a slow cooker - you can’t really overcook it, since the gelatin in the chicken wings keeps everything moist and succulent.

There are nearly 2 cups of alcohol in this, but it doesn’t taste alcoholic in any way. Most of the alcohol cooks away, leaving the flavor and sweetness of the sake, so you can give it to kids without any worries. The vinegar and lemon juice in the cooking liquid cuts down on the fattiness and adds a little underlying tang.

Recipe: Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings

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  • 1 kg / 2.2 lbs. chicken wings
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 adult thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cup sake - you could use a moderately sweet white wine instead too, even leftovers
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup mirin or sweet sherry
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • Sansho pepper or black pepper
  • Julienned ginger or lemon peel

Suggested equipment: a large frying pan; a heavy bottomed pot like a Le Crueset or an electric slow cooker (crockpot)

Cut the wing tip section of the chicken wings off - save them in the freezer for making a soup. Cut the two remaining sections apart at the joint.

Peel and roughly cut up the carrots into chunks. Peel and finely julienne the ginger.

Put the chicken wings in one layer in the frying pan (add a bit of oil to the pan if it’s not non-stick). Brown the wings on both sides. Take out the wings, drain out any grease in the pan, and return the pan to the heat. Add the ginger and carrots and sauté briefly (the pan should be oily enough still so you don’t need to add more oil).

Put all the liquid ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil. Put the chicken, vegetables, and liquid all into the cooking pot you’ll be using. If you are using a crockpot/slow cooker, you can just set it to cook for at least 2 hours. If cooking on the stovetop, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour with a pot lid smaller than the one that came with the pot sitting right on top of the contents (an otoshi-buta - see the end notes here) with sansho pepper or black pepper, and optionaly garnish with finely julienned ginger or lemon peel. (If you can get a hold of it, yuzu peel is extra nice).

You can store this in the refrigerator for a few days, immersed in the cooking liquid. The liquid will firm up into a dark jelly-like state, which you can use as a basis for soup or sauce (scrape off the fat that will form on the surface).

To serve, arrange the chicken pieces on your serving dish or bowl, and arrange the carrots attractively around. Serve with hot rice and a side salad or a vegetable side dish (broccoli with wasabi sauce goes particularly well). Also good in bento, well drained of the cooking liquid.

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Oooh those look tasty. Just

Oooh those look tasty. Just curious - when using a heavy pot versus a slow cooker, why do you need a separate frying pan instead of using the same pot in which the wings will be braised? I often sear meats/veg in my Le Creuset before adding liquid for braising. Is there some cooking technique I am missing out on by using the same pot for both activities?

Elaine | 23 October, 2008 - 18:18

Hi Elaine. I use a frying

Hi Elaine. I use a frying pan here to expose the the hot surface of the pan to each chicken wing evenly, The thing is, when you are browning meat before putting it into a stew, a lot people stir it around constantly, but I learned that this is the wrong way to go about it - this tends to steam the meat rather than searing the surface, which is what you want to do by browning. My cooking pot’s bottom surface is smaller than what I need to put the chicken wings in one layer, which is why I use my biggest frying pan for the browning part. I then let the chicken pieces be wthout stirring them about or anything until they are properly browned on that side, then just flipe them over and repeat. I hope I’ve explained that coherently enough :)

maki | 23 October, 2008 - 19:25

amazing! maybe these can

amazing! maybe these can replace buffalo wings for a Superbowl party

Phil | 23 October, 2008 - 19:28

They might be a bit messy to

They might be a bit messy to eat with your hands…they almost fall off the bone ^_^ You could add spice to it though by adding some chili pepper or so.

maki | 23 October, 2008 - 21:06

Wow !!! I have just finished

Wow !!! I have just finished dinner at the moment, but I’d love to taste this dish :D

Nolwenn | 23 October, 2008 - 21:08

Yum!

I have these settling down to simmer on the stove right now for dinner. The entire house smells so tangy and umami-tasty. I’m not sure any of them will last long enough to go in lunchboxes!

Stealthflower | 25 October, 2008 - 04:47

These look incredibly good

We’ve been noticing lately that we haven’t come across a lot of really good chicken recipes. This one looks really good, a great substitute for regular chicken wings, that’s for sure.

Muse in the Kitchen | 25 October, 2008 - 21:26

Cooking it right now.....and some questions

Hi Maki,

How’s your Sunday?
I am simmering the wings right now. Forgot to saute the julienned ginger with the carrots, so ended up just throwing them in there. Can’t wait to try them tonight!

Can you answer some questions please?
What is the purpose of first frying the wings? Is it to degrease them a bit…
Second, there seems to be quite a bit of liquid, and I am sure it won’t evaporate too much after cooking - this is correct, right? I don’t see any liquid in your picture. Did you just pour it off for the pic?
Lastly, you mentioned about using the left over liquids for a soup base or sauce. Can you elaborate more on that please.

Thanks a lot. I am so looking forward to eating the chicken wings tonight. Am all out of broccoli, so I will be making some spinach gomaee to go with this and rice tonight. Will probably make some miso soup too. Yum!

Wakkun | 26 October, 2008 - 22:47

Hi Wakkun. I’m sorry I

Hi Wakkun. I’m sorry I didn’t get to your questions yesterday.

  • The wings are fried to give them better flavor and color, and also to draw off a lot of the grease.

  • The liquid won’t all evaporate. I just fish out the wings and veg from there. But I do pour some of it over the food as a sauce. It tastes great!

  • The leftover liquid is full of flavor, rather like a chicken demiglace (though it’s not) so it can be used as a sauce on its own, or added to a soup for extra flavor and so on.

maki | 27 October, 2008 - 12:56

I’m a veggie, but I like

I’m a veggie, but I like to cook chicken dishes for the boyfriend… Is it possible to use thighs in this dish? We always seem to have some in the freezer, as they’re so cheap!

Polly | 27 October, 2008 - 20:11

I’m a veggie, but I like

I’m a veggie, but I like to cook chicken dishes for the boyfriend… Is it possible to use thighs in this dish? We always seem to have some in the freezer, as they’re so cheap!

Polly | 27 October, 2008 - 20:12

Thighs will work fine!

Thighs will work fine! Bone-in thighs are better for this.

maki | 28 October, 2008 - 12:59

yummy!

This sounds (and looks) fantastic! Will definitely try it out, soon.

Sonja | 28 October, 2008 - 03:06

I just discovered your blog.

I just discovered your blog. Thanks! I love Japanese food, and also appreciate the life of an expat foodie in Europe and Switzerland.

Lynda | 28 October, 2008 - 16:29

Good stuff

I know it would seem like a lot of work, but what do you think of grating the carrots instead of leaving them chunky?

Nate | 29 October, 2008 - 18:09

I guess you could grate

I guess you could grate them…but they might disintegrate a bit if you cook this a long time.

maki | 30 October, 2008 - 03:01

Hi, is it possible not to

Hi, is it possible not to use alcohol at all in this recipe, or maybe substitute it with something else?? thanks!

mitha | 29 October, 2008 - 20:33

Well, if the alcholic

Well, if the alcholic ingredients used in a recipe are small I would say just leave it out. But in this recipe it’s a main feature (thus the name Drunken…) so I can’t really think of any substitutes. If you can’t use alcohol I’m afraid you would have to pass on this particular recipe.

maki | 30 October, 2008 - 03:00

Thanks for responding and verdict!

Hi Maki,

Thank you for answering my questions (from an earlier comment).
Wanted to report back. The dish was tasty. Since I was busy the next day, asked hubby to reheat the left overs himself and cook some chinese rice noodles (used the sauce from the stew as the soup base for the noodles). He was skeptical when I told him to do that, but when I came home later on that day - he said it was very tasty!
So thank you for another good recipe.

Wakkun | 30 October, 2008 - 01:12

Thank you always for trying

Thank you always for trying out my recipes, and for the great feedback Wakkun! :)

maki | 30 October, 2008 - 03:01

Nice!

I’ve got this simmering on the stovetop now, smells absolutely heavenly. I didn’t expect it so long to brown the chicken wings with a non-stick pan, so next time I think I’ll try oven browning them. But yeah, it did give a very nice orangey brown color like buffulo wings!

anon. | 6 November, 2008 - 04:25

I have got to try this

Hi Maki,

It’s 9am here in Canada, and I’m craving your wings so badly! I’m usually craving croissants at this time of the day… Just found out about your blog while browsing the web. Great stuff!

francis | 6 November, 2008 - 16:20

Hi Maki, I tried this recipe

Hi Maki,

I tried this recipe for a football party … it was a huge hit! Thanks for sharing it :)

April | 16 November, 2008 - 18:06

Looks delicious !

This is a good combinatioin of flavour that I would like to make :). Me and my husband love Japanese food so much that I want to learn how to make simple dishes for him. I am so excited that I have found your site.This is a great site and thank you for showing me how to cook Japanese food! ;)

Jantawee. | 1 December, 2008 - 05:00

Re: Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings with Carrots (an everyday ...

Love your recipes! This one, I didn't quite follow your instructions to the full (what do you expect - I'm a boy!) Used some leftover sauvignon blanc instead of sake and accidentally tipped in some shichimi powder whilst frying. It turned out beautifully too. Keep the great recipes coming. Thanks heaps.
David

David | 29 May, 2009 - 15:23

Re: Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings with Carrots (an everyday ...

I just made this for dinner and it was delicious and so easy to make! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

grace | 17 February, 2010 - 06:40

Re: Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings with Carrots (an everyday ...

I am going to make this in a few minutes. I am going to brown the wings in my enamel coated cast iron pot that I will braise in, I will just brown the wings in batches. This way, you don't lose all of the flavour from the bits stuck to the bottom by changing pans. I am also going to use the broth to make an udon soup! I can't wait!

Lisa Anne of This Urban Homestead | 16 May, 2011 - 22:16

Re: Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings with Carrots (an everyday ...

Hi maki san,look absolutely delicious!Thanks

nada | 26 September, 2012 - 03:47

Re: Drunken Tangy Chicken Wings with Carrots (an everyday ...

Hi Maki,

This looks delicious. If we cook the wings on a stovetop, it only needs to be cooked for an hour?

Thanks.

Candice | 12 June, 2013 - 19:48

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