Believe it or not, a lot of food that you eat at a restaurant is actually frozen. Many items, particularly appetizers, are purchased in bulk from a restaurant supply company. When someone orders them, they’re simply throw in the fryer to give them plenty of crispiness and a fresh taste. This means that quite a lot of the time they’re simply frying frozen chicken wings.
You can take advantage of this technique at home to get the most out of your frozen chicken, fries, and other goodies. While this might seem like a simple use of your fryer, there’s actually a bit of subtlety involved that can make a huge difference in how your wings turn out.
Fryers Are Dangerous
The first thing to understand is that fryers are pretty dangerous. If you’ve used your deep fryer for a long time you’ve almost certainly developed a healthy respect for the dangers of the device. Boiling hot oil is not something that you want to be careless around, especially in a cramped space like a home kitchen.
One of the first rules of deep frying is that oil and water do NOT mix. This is because water is heavier than oil (so it sinks), but your fryer is very hot. As the water sinks down beneath the oil it will boil, turning it into steam. The steam will expand and rise, making bubbles that can splatter hot oil all over your kitchen.
Frozen Chicken Is Full Of Water
The frozen wings you buy at the grocery store are probably full of water. This means that if you stick them straight into the deep fryer the water will melt, boil, and get hot oil everywhere. This is a pretty major safety hazard in a home kitchen.
You can avoid this, however. When frying frozen chicken, the way to stay safe is to defrost the chicken first. Simply use your microwave’s defrost setting or throw the chicken in the fridge several hours in advance of when you plan to fry it. After it’s defrosted, pat it dry with a paper towel before putting it into your fryer.
How To Fry Frozen Chicken Wings
Once your chicken is defrosted and the outside is dry, all you need to do is throw it in your deep fryer for a few minutes. Wings tend to be cooked for about 10 minutes at 350 to 375, but your favorite style of chicken wings might need more or less cook time. Feel free to experiment! In general, frozen chicken that’s pre-cooked will need less time, and chicken that’s not totally thawed in the middle will need more time.
Does Frying Frozen Chicken Really Enhance The Taste?
Even the best brand of frozen chicken tends to get a little gross if you cook it in the microwave. This is due to how microwaves cook. You’re essentially cooking the chicken from the inside out in a fairly uneven way. Microwaves also use a lot of heat for a short amount of time, which isn’t great for cooking poultry.
Your fryer does several things better. First, the fryer applies heat evenly to the entire piece of chicken. Even with a turntable in your microwave, you’re just rotating your food so that the hot spots don’t stay in one place for too long. With a deep fryer, you’re applying lots of heat to every part of the outside of each chicken wing.
Second, the fryer uses a more moderate temperature, allowing you to cook things more slowly. This is important if you want your chicken to be moist and tender instead of being rubbery and dry. Finding the right combination of temperature and cook time can be tricky, of course, but once you have it down you’ll get perfect frozen chicken wings every time. Third, the fryer will crisp up the exterior in a pretty spectacular way. There’s a big difference between real fried chicken and something that’s been recently reheated in the microwave. If you’re tired of soggy wings with lackluster outsides the fryer is definitely your best bet.
In combination, these factors make a huge difference in how your wings look, feel, and taste. While the fried frozen chicken wings you prepare at home might not be quite as good as fresh wings from a local eatery, they’ll be a heck of a lot closer than you might expect.
Preparing Frozen Chicken Wings Without A Fryer
If you can’t actually fry your chicken in oil, the next best tool is something called an “air fryer” or a convection oven. This appliance combines a fan and an oven to create a chamber of hot, circulating air. In other words, instead of using oil to conduct heat to your food, it uses air. The fan makes a pretty big difference when compared to a normal oven since it keeps the air temperature within the oven even and helps your food heat from all sides at once
You can get small air fryers pretty cheaply these days. Many of these machines can sit easily on your countertop and “fry” enough wings for one or two people at once. If you do a lot of cooking at home you may want to consider getting a full-sized convection oven instead. There’s a pretty big difference in how well these things cook up food when compared to a regular oven. Not only are your cook times lower, you’ll often get food that’s cooked more evenly, allowing you to pull off some pretty succulent meats with nice, crispy exteriors.
If you don’t have access to a convection oven, the best way to prepare your frozen wings is probably in your regular oven. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and simply wait for your wings to heat up. While it takes longer than the microwave, they’ll be much more juicy, crispy, and delicious.
Frying Frozen Chicken Wings The Right Way
If you want near-restaurant quality wings at home, consider frying them. To fry frozen chicken wings, defrost them first, pat the outsides dry, and then fry them for about 10 minutes at about 350 F. You’ll love how your fried frozen chicken wings taste!
Bonus Section – How To Make Chicken Fried Rice
I love chicken fried rice! All chicken fried rice. I have been fortunate to have learned how to make several different kinds, sweet Thai, spicy Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, Chinese-American, and a few others. The one thing they all have in common is rice, but that can be where the similarities end. Even the rice can be very different, some cultures use jasmine, some basmati.
Part of the popularity of fried rice is that it is one of the only foods that can be eaten by everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions. Gluten-free eaters can use a gluten-free soy sauce. Vegetarians can skip the chicken and go for tofu or tempeh. Chicken fried rice follows Jewish and Muslim diet restrictions. And it’s yummy!
The first component is obviously rice. It was explained to me by a Thai chef that fried rice is a dish that was created to utilize the leftover rice from the previous day. Since most of us don’t make a cooker full of rice every day we have to start fresh. Or, you could plan on making extra rice and save the leftover for frying. Either way, I like to use cold rice to make fried rice. Using fresh, hot rice can result in a very gummy, mushy end result.
So, I like to make the rice a while in advance, or the night before, and let it cool before using. I usually make 4 cups, then dump the rice onto a cookie sheet and allow it to cool completely.
Cooling completely is very important as rice is what we professionals call a potentially hazardous food. This means that it harbors bacteria, and has all the ingredients to create food poisoning. A way to limit this is to get the rice cold quickly, eliminating the amount of time bacteria can grow, as bacteria need to be between 40 degrees and 140 degrees to grow.