Honey-Habanero Chicken Wings
Amazón Grill and Artista, Houston, TX; Américas, Houston and The Woodlands, TX; Churrascos, Houston and Sugar Land, TX
Potent habanero peppers add an undercurrent of heat to the sweet and buttery sauce that accompanies these wings. We strongly recommend wearing plastic gloves when handling habaneros.
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 5 medium (about 1 1/2 ounces) habanero peppers, stems removed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup ice
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- Peanut or canola oil for frying
- 2 pounds whole chicken wings, drumettes and wings separated and tips removed
To make the habanero–honey sauce, combine the lime juice, vinegar, habanero peppers, and salt in a blender and purée until smooth. Strain through a sieve and discard the solids. Set aside. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Cook until the butter turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and scrape into a medium bowl. Whisk in the honey and a tablespoon of the habanero vinegar. Taste and add a little more vinegar if desired. Set aside until needed. Discard the vinegar or save for another use.
To make the tempura batter, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and ice; mix well to smooth out any lumps. Set aside.
To make the seasoned flour, whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
Add about 6 inches of frying oil to a deep pot. Heat the oil until it reaches 350°F.
While the oil is heating up, prepare the wings for frying: dip one wing in tempura batter. Shake off any excess batter, then coat in seasoned flour. Place the wing on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wings.
Working in batches, fry the wings until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. (Make sure the temperature of the oil returns to 350°F before frying a new batch, or the wings will be greasy.) Transfer the fried wings to a paper towel–lined plate or baking sheet.
If needed, whisk the habanero–honey sauce again to make sure everything is well combined. Toss the wings in about a cup of the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side for dipping.