Chicken Wings (Getty Images)

Coffee and beer are the secret ingredients to these juicy – but not spicy! – chicken wings

As a game day alternative, this crowd-pleasing party food brings all the flavor with a heat level you control


Ashlie D. Stevens
January 26, 2020 10:30PM (UTC)

Let's be real, the true appeal of a Super Bowl party is in the snacks. Chips, dips, sliders, and, of course, the obvious mainstay — chicken wings. And while I love the slick, hot-sauce soaked standard that is the Buffalo wing, sometimes you (or your guests) want something that is spiced, but not spicy. That's where these coffee porter-brined wings come in. 

Why coffee porter? That particular brew is known for its rich smoothness with a roatsed malt base. Then the layers of nuttiness, chocolate, and spices are topped by a coffee aroma, and all of these elements are imparted into the bird.

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The salt and beer in this brine denature the proteins in the raw chicken wings, giving them a natural juiciness and a new flavor once cooked. Then we double down on the coffee flavor with an espresso-based dry rub. Typically I'm a fan of grilled wings, but for ease of preparation, oven-baked works well for parties. 

Coffee Porter-Brined Wings 

18 chicken wings
Nonstick cooking spray

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Brine

12 ounces of coffee porter
3 ½ cups of water
¼ cup of Kosher salt 
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of minced garlic 
1 tablespoon of finely minced red onion
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf

Rub

1 tablespoon ground espresso coffee
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dry oregano
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your desire for spice, you can up this measurement)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

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1. In a large bowl, combine the brine ingredients. Whisk until the sugar and salt dissolves. Place the chicken wings into a gallon-sized freezer bag, and pour the brine in. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. 

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside. 

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3. Remove wings from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients and thoroughly apply to the wings. (I find using a brush or — gasp — your hands works best.) 

4. Place wings in the prepared sheet pan and bake for about 35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Plate, serving with preferred dipping sauce, carrots, and celery. 

 

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Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is a staff writer at Salon, specializing in culture.

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