Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I just didn’t get the point of chicken wings. The effort-to-reward ratio just seemed off-kilter to me – too many bones, not enough meat.
And then, one day, a particularly delicious batch of wings showed me the error of my ways. What I hadn’t understood until that moment is that chicken wings aren’t about the meat… they’re about the delicious crispy chicken skin and, by extension, the delicious sauce said skin is smothered in. The meaty bits are just a bonus, really.
I’m still kind of a snob when it comes to my wings, though. I much prefer plump drumettes to scrawny wingettes, I hate overly gloppy or overpowering sauces, and I’ll always take untraditional seasonings like jerk spice, honey-turmeric or chili-lime over the basic Buffalo butter-and-hot-sauce combo anyday.
Which is pretty much why these Chinese-style Coca-Cola Chicken Wings are right up my alley.
These meaty little drumettes are tender and juicy, and coated with a lovely sticky sauce that owes its deliciousness to a rather unexpected ingredient: soda pop.
Traditionally, Coca-Cola is the beverage of choice (and it’s also what I used in this case), but you can use your particular cola of choice, whether it’s Pepsi, RC, or Cott. Heck, even root beer would do, if that’s more your thing. Just make sure not to use diet pop… you need good ol’ fashioned tooth-rotting sugar to make the magic happen.
And while you might expect a half-can of cola to make these wings sticky-sweet, they’re really just plain sticky.
The flavours that end up shining through is the garlic, black pepper and ginger, with just enough dark caramel sweetness to balance out the saltiness of the soy. And the cola flavour? So subtle that you’d be hard-pressed to guess the secret ingredient if you didn’t already know what it was.
Honestly, I don’t see myself going back to Buffalo sauce anytime soon.
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 lbs chicken drumettes
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- ¾ cup cola
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sherry
- Chopped green onion, for garnish
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper. Add the chicken wings to the bag, zip shut, and toss until chicken is well coated with marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight if at all possible.
- Heat oil in a wok or large heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium-heat. Add the chicken wings and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until the skin is crisp and browned. Add the cola, soy sauce and sherry to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce reduces down to a thick glaze, turning the wings occasionally to make sure they cook evenly.
- Transfer the finished wings to a serving platter and garnish with a sprinkling of green onions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately, with lots of napkins to wipe up afterwards.