Season 15 of Cook’s Country Saturdays tunes at 12:00 p.m. beginning September 10. WTTW Passport members can stream recent seasons.
Lemon pepper is a subtle but zesty seasoning perfect for chicken wings: it lets you enjoy the taste of the chicken without simply overwhelming the wings with a saccharine, soppy sauce. Store-bought lemon pepper mixes often rely heavily on salt and garlic to make them interesting, but Cook’s Country includes a variety of other spices in addition to fresh lemon zest (ingeniously dried in the microwave) to create a versatile seasoning that you could use on virtually anything. (This is a worthwhile recipe to keep even if you don’t like chicken wings, just for the lemon pepper.) Serve up a batch of wings with ranch or blue cheese dressing next time you have a hungry group of people over.
Citric acid gives our homemade lemon pepper seasoning the signature punchy tartness present in most commercial lemon pepper blends. We developed this recipe using Ball brand citric acid. Look for it in the canning and jarring section of your supermarket or online. When possible, buy whole wings and butcher them yourself because they tend to be larger than wings that come split. If you can find only split wings, look for larger ones. Twelve whole wings should ideally equal 3 pounds and will yield 24 pieces (12 drumettes and 12 flats, with the tips discarded). Served with blue cheese dressing.
Lemon Pepper Seasoning:
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (3 lemons)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cilantro
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon citric acid (optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 pounds chicken wings, cut at joints, wingtips discarded
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil for frying
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1⁄2 tablespoons Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1 1⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon honey
1. For Lemon Pepper Seasoning: Spread lemon zest evenly on plate and microwave until dry and lemon zest separates easily when crumbled between your fingers, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving.
2. Combine pepper; salt; granulated garlic; onion powder; cilantro; sugar; citric acid, if using; turmeric; cayenne; and lemon zest in bowl. Set aside. (Seasoning can be stored in air-tight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.)
3. For the Wings: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Whisk cornstarch, flour, and baking powder together in bowl. Toss wings with lemon juice, salt, and pepper in large bowl until wings are evenly coated. Add cornstarch mixture and use your hands to toss and thoroughly coat wings in cornstarch mixture, pressing and rubbing cornstarch mixture into wings to adhere; set aside while heating oil.
4. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Using flip flops, add half of wings to oil and fry until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon or spider skimmer, transfer fried wings to prepared sheet. Transfer sheet to oven to keep warm. Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining wings.
5. For the Sauce: Meanwhile, whisk all ingredients in second large bowl until uniform.
6. Add wings and 2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning to bowl with sauce and toss until wings are uniformly coated. Serve, sprinkled with extra lemon pepper seasoning as desired.