After much discussion, and consideration of all the newfound extra space in our remodeled kitchen, my husband and I have finally decided for certain on the matter of an air fryer.
Several of our friends with air fryers have extolled the virtues of their machines and enticed us with descriptions of the ultra-crispy and mouthwatering dishes they have produced with them. We got the rundown on the various styles and sizes and functions, and even made a special trip to Williams-Sonoma to compare the features for ourselves and measure and imagine exactly where we’d put such a device in our newly remodeled kitchen.
And after all that planning and considering, our final decision was that, well, we didn’t need one after all.
Most of the foods our friends described were not the kind of things we imagined we’d really make at home (though crispy French fries with minimal oil sounds pretty darn good), and when we really dug in to learn how air fryers work, we realized that we already have a version of an air fryer in our full-sized electric convection oven. If we use the convect-roast or convect-bake setting, in combination with a higher temperature, the effect is nearly the same as in an air fryer, at least for the foods we expected we would actually make. And to prove it (to ourselves as much as anyone else), we made these crispy chicken wings, using a tried-and-true method I learned from Food Network’s Alton Brown.
This method differs from others because it involves first steaming and chilling the wings, a process which renders excess skin fat so that better crisping can take place in the oven. No oil is required because there is plenty of natural fat remaining in the chicken skin. Roasting them at high temperature further tightens the skin, and you are left with a crispy-crunchy exterior and tender, juicy meat inside.
With football’s biggest game only days away, I thought it would be appropriate to share a different kind of wing recipe—one that packs plenty of flavor and as much heat as you want, but without the same old “Buffalo” flavors. These wings are covered in Jamaican jerk seasoning, featuring allspice, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers and brown sugar, which may sound complex, but I used a ready-made jerk rub that is easy to find in stores. The flavors are intense but not overpoweringly hot, and because we like to dip our wings into a dip or sauce, I made an easy mango and red pepper chutney to go with them.
I’ve made steamed and roasted wings before, but without convection and usually for my Just South of Buffalo Wings (which are still a favorite at our house). We also have done the jerk flavor wings many times, but usually on the grill during the summer months. This time, we combined methods and flavors and put the convection method to the test. As you’ll see, it passed with flying colors, and the convection chopped nearly 15 minutes off the previous steamed-and-roasted recipe. No need for one more appliance here!
This recipe is written for 16 pieces, but it should be very easy to double or triple as needed.
8 whole chicken wings (trimmed and cut into flats and drummettes if desired)
4 Tbsp. prepared jerk rub (a wet version from a jar)
2 Tbsp. canola, avocado or peanut oil (to thin the jerk rub)
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. dark rum (preferably Jamaican)
Mango-Red Pepper Chutney
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup mango, chopped (fresh or frozen, thawed)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dark Jamaican rum
- Set a lidded steamer basket over a pot with about two inches of water and bring it to a low boil.
- Spray the basket with oil and arrange the chicken wings in it, overlapping them so that the rising steam can permeate the whole batch. Cover the steamer and keep at a low boil for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the steamed wings to a parchment-lined baking sheet and rest until they are cooled to near-room temperature. Cover and refrigerate the wings for at least one hour or up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 425° F on a convection setting, with oven rack in the center position. Spray a cookie cooling rack with oil and set over a foil-lined cookie sheet. Arrange wings on rack, with space between the pieces to allow easy air flow.
- Convect-roast for 15 minutes (or regular roast for 20 minutes). While wings are roasting, make the mango-pepper chutney.
- After 15 minutes, turn wings to roast the other side 15 more minutes (or 20 for regular roast setting). The wings should be nicely browned all over and the skin on the wings should appear tight but not too dry.
- During the second half of roasting, combine jerk wet rub seasoning, canola oil, brown sugar and rum in a large bowl. Whisk until evenly combined.
- Toss wings in the bowl of jerk rub, spooning the seasoning over any unglazed areas. Return the wings to the rack on the cookie sheet and roast about 3 more minutes to set the glaze in the oven.
- Serve immediately with the mango-pepper chutney.
Mango-Red Pepper Chutney Instructions
- Place a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in oil and saute peppers and scallions, just long enough to soften them. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cut-up mango pieces and stir until the mixture is heated through. Stir in brown sugar, vinegar and rum. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat and cover, simmering until thickened. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.