Fruity Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings
The wing may be the most popular part of a chicken. The wing is not the meatiest part, but it is tasty and many like to crunch those wing tips. However, for this recipe, depending on the individual cook’s taste, the wings used may or may not retain their tips. Some other part of the chicken may be used, but wings work best. They seem to lend the best flavor to the dish.
Fruit and poultry complement one another. Fruit stuffings may be the most common use of fruit with poultry, but fruits draped on and/or around the birds are just as delicious, such as a glaze on a duck or grapes included in a chicken salad. The more delicate flavor of a chicken is a good base for the stronger flavors of fruit. When it comes to fruit, the more the merrier. Fruity Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Wings calls for three fruits, with the option of a fourth for a slightly sharper taste.
Slow but Simple to Make
This recipe is simple to make. A little patience may be needed while waiting for the liquid to reduce, but the combination of flavors is worth the patience. The only tricky part is to keep watch toward the end so the sauce and wings do not catch. But even if they do catch, the dish may be saved by adding a little water. Further, the mixture may be reheated. Reheat slowly—adding a little water if needed. Single servings can be heated up in a small skillet. This dish heats up better on top of the stove then it does in a microwave.
The size of the wings does not matter, except in the length of time for the initial cooking. (The initial cooking time given below is predicated on the use of smaller wings.) The choice depends on the cook’s preference.
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, (preferably light brown)
- 1 apple, (or substitute 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
- 1 pear, (or substitute 8 ounce can of pears in their own juice)
- 1 orange, (or substitute 2 tablespoons of orange concentrate, unsweetened)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cranberries, (optional)
Dutch oven with a lid
Bowl for cut up fruit
Plate for the chicken
Pour the olive oil into the Dutch Oven. Tip the pan back and forth until the oil coats the bottom. Set the pan on the stove over medium heat.
As the oil heats, salt and pepper the wings. Once the oil is hot, place the wings in the pan. For the moment, leave the lid off the pan. Cooking time will vary slightly with the size of the wings. For approximately the next ten minutes, brown the wings, turning them periodically. Then turn down the heat to a medium low, cover the pan with the lid, and cook another five to ten minutes until the wings are cooked through.
While the wings are cooking, mix together in a measuring cup the water, vinegar, white sugar, and brown sugar. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Then peel and cut up the fruit and set to one side. Applesauce, canned pears, and orange concentrate can be substituted, but make sure they are all unsweetened. No extra sugar is needed.
Once the wings are sufficiently cooked, add the water, vinegar, sugar mixture. If a little of the sugar did not dissolve, add a tiny bit of water and use that to scrape the last of the sugar out. Cover the pot with the lid again and cook for about another fifteen minutes. Then, with a pair of tongs, remove the wings and place them on a plate.
(The wings can be left in for the entire cooking time IF the cook would prefer the meat to fall off the bone. If that is the preference and the meat falls into the sweet and sour solution, the bones can then be removed from the pan with the tongs. )
Continue cooking the solution for about another fifteen minutes trying to reduce the liquid as the solution thickens. Then add the fruit. Leave uncovered and turn down the heat to simmer the solution for about another fifteen to twenty minutes before re-introducing the wings. At that point, place the cover back on the pan and turn down the heat just a little more. The goal is a thin, syrup like consistency for the solution.
(As with the wings, if the cook does not care about the consistency of the fruit OR uses the substitutes of applesauce and orange concentrate, then the fruit may be added earlier—even at the time the water/vinegar solution is added. When the substitutes are used, the applesauce and orange concentrate may go in early and the cook may hold off on adding the canned pears until later.)
Ready for the Table
Once the thin, syrup consistency has been achieved and the wings re-heated, serve with vegetables. I suggest items that have a very different flavor and texture than the sweet-and-sour wings—perhaps a salad and a potato or asparagus accompanied by carrots or squash.
© 2013 Teddi DiCanio