Chicken Wings with Explosive Chile
De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.
About 2 quarts canola oil
3 pounds chicken wings, separated into drumettes and midsections (or flats), wing tips discarded
1 star anise pod
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
1 cup dried red Chinese chiles or dried arbor chiles
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, very thinly sliced, then thinly sliced into matchsticks
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Pour 2 inches of the oil into a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 300°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer.
Working in batches of 6 to 7 pieces, fry the chicken wings in the oil (be very careful when adding wings to oil as it may spatter), adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 300°F, until the skin is opaque but not browned, about 3 to 5 minutes (the wings will not be cooked through). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the wings to a large bowl and toss with a generous amount of salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
When all the wings are fried, let them cool completely. Cover the baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight. Set the oil aside for use later.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the star anise, red pepper flakes, cumin, and peppercorns in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Using a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, grind into a fine powder set aside. Place the chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
When ready to serve, set the reserved frying oil over medium-high heat and bring to 350°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer. Working in batches of 6 to 7 frozen wing pieces, fry, turning the wings occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350°F, until the wings are cooked through, golden brown, and crispy, about 6 minutes.
Immediately transfer each batch to a large bowl, season with salt and 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, and toss to coat. Place on a serving dish and repeat with the remaining wings.
When all the wings are cooked, place the reserved chiles, ginger, 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, and 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil in the large bowl and toss to combine. Scatter the mixture over the chicken wings and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.