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Lemon pepper is a subtle yet zesty seasoning that’s perfect for chicken wings: it lets you savor the taste of chicken without just 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 country of cooks includes a variety of other spices in addition to fresh lemon zest (ingeniously microwave-dried) to create a versatile seasoning you can use on virtually anything. (This is a recipe worth keeping even if you don’t like chicken wings, just for the lemon pepper.) Serve a batch of wings with a ranch or blue cheese dressing next time you have a group of hungry people.
Citric acid gives our Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning the characteristic sourness of most commercial lemon pepper blends. We developed this recipe using Ball brand citric acid. Look for it in the cans and jars section of your supermarket or online. If possible, buy whole wings and cork them yourself, as they tend to be larger than split wings. If you only find split wings, look for the larger ones. Twelve whole wings should ideally equal 3 pounds and will yield 24 pieces (12 drumsticks and 12 dishes, with the tips discarded). Serve with a blue cheese vinaigrette.
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 coriander
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 of yeast
3 pounds chicken wings, cut at the joints, wingtips discarded
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
2 liters 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 of honey
1. For the lemon pepper seasoning: Spread the lemon zest evenly on a plate and microwave until dry and the lemon zest separates easily when crumbled between your fingers, about 2 minutes, stirring gently. halfway through cooking.
2. Mix the pepper; salt; granulated garlic; onion powder; coriander; sugar; citric acid, if applicable; Turmeric; Cayenne; and lemon zest in a bowl. Put aside. (Seasoning can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.)
3. For the Wings: Set the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towel. Whisk together cornstarch, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Toss the wings with the lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl until the wings are evenly coated. Add cornstarch mixture and use your hands to mix well and coat the wings in the cornstarch mixture, pressing and rubbing the cornstarch mixture into the wings to adhere; set aside while heating oil.
4. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Using tongs, add half of the wings to the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a slotted spoon, transfer the fried wings to the prepared sheet. Transfer the sheet to the oven to keep it warm. Return the oil to 375 degrees and repeat with the remaining wings.
5. For the sauce: Meanwhile, whisk all ingredients together in a second large bowl until well blended.
6. Add the wings and 2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning to a bowl with the sauce and toss until the wings are evenly coated. Serve, sprinkled with additional lemon pepper seasoning, if desired.