Hot Plate: Eight orders of chicken wings you need to eat right now

Hot Plate: Eight orders of chicken wings you need to eat right now

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Some say that chicken wings fall into the “even when it’s bad, it’s good” category of food. While there might be some truth to that, certain wings rise above the flock. Among truly great ones, crispiness is universal; tender, evenly seasoned meat is another crucial criterion. Wings are a mainstay the city has cycled through before, but each spin of the wheel brings unexpected delights—take a boneless wing stuffed like a dumpling, for example. Of course, classics like buffalo hot wings will always be welcome favourites—as always with so-called “simple” fare, it’s in the technique, and the purveyors below have it down pat. Here are eight orders of wings you need to eat right now.

The ones with the peperoncino

1 Bloordale’s Pizza Conzo puts an Italian spin on the classic hot wing with a peperoncini-based sauce and a side of gorgonzola dipping sauce. Meltingly tender thanks to a quick braise, they’re bathed in a silky, buttery sauce of reduced braising liquid, vinegar, hot sauce and the aforementioned peperoncini. They also happen to be gluten free, thanks to a light pre-fry coating of chickpea flour—which is also the secret to Sugo’s wildly delicious fried calamari. $18 for one pound. 1279 Bloor St. W., 416-792-1279,

The ones you can only get every other Monday

2 Like Extra Burger’s smashed patties, these wings are the epitome of simple food taken to the next level via perfect execution. Take the lemon-pepper flavour, made with lemons dehydrated in-house for a pop of citrusy brightness. The buffalo kind, while holding onto all the trademark flavours of the classic wing, has an unexpected depth. And the dry-rubbed suicide wings are cruel to be kind. Each order comes with celery sticks, ranch dip and half a burger bun for sopping up extra sauce. These wings are only available every other Monday, but well worth the planning ahead. $29 for two pounds, $22 for the eat-alone special (which comes with a pop)., @centreicehotwings

The ones infused with applewood smoke

3 A habanero-brown sugar cure locks the juices inside these wings from Ossington’s Union, and a treatment with applewood and charcoal smoke infuses them with nostalgic backyard-barbecue flavour. The final fry and slathering in one of two sauces—honey habanero or classic BBQ—leaves them glazed, sticky and deeply caramelized, as evidenced by their chocolatey shade. Texture plays no second fiddle to flavour here: their juiciness quotient is off the charts. Union chef Teo Paul says these flavours are an ode to the chicken at Ricki Jo’s, a St. Catharines restaurant he frequented as a child. $22 main, $15 appetizer. 72 Ossington Ave., 416-850-0093,

The ones that are halal

4 Legions of PG Clucks devotees already know that this place deeply understands its chicken, and the wings (all of which are halal) are no exception. At the chicken joint’s new Queen West location, wings get an overnight lemon-herb brine, resulting in thoroughly seasoned meat with an oh-so-slight hint of citrus. They’re pre-fried at a low temperature before air-drying and being fried to order, yielding a crispy yet tender wing. A choice of three sauces, all with a house-fermented jalapeño base, are on offer: buffalo, hot honey and smokey BBQ. Crinkle fries and blue-cheese dipping sauce accompany every order. $20. 1112 Queen St. W.,

The ones stuffed with dumplings

5 Hanmoto’s chicken wings are essentially given the gyoza treatment. A brined, boneless wing is stuffed with ground pork, bacon and ginger before being deep-fried and covered with tare, a thick, sweet sauce based in soy and mirin. The resulting wing-dumpling lovechild is topped with napa cabbage, Chinese chives, cilantro, nori, sesame seeds and a healthy drizzle of kewpie mayo. This is the polar opposite of minimalistic fare in the best possible way, and it tastes as loud as it looks: deep, intense chicken flavour and a fresh hit from the herbs finishes with a pillowy, gingery centre. $12.75. 2 Lakeview Ave., @hanm0t0

The sweet-and-spicy ones

6 Sticky-sweet honey gochujang sauce adorns The Wren’s caramelized beauties, which unlike most restaurant wings, are left whole. This not only makes them more substantial, but will help you and yours avoid any drums-versus-flats disputes. The wings are given an overnight bath in soy, ginger and garlic, giving them a savoury depth that sets off the sauce. Wren chef Tabitha Cranney swears by a potato starch pre-fry coating, which she says yields a thinner, more delicate layer of crisp than corn starch. Fresno chilis, green onions and toasted sesame seeds top the lot. The wing tips are a special joy here: crunch them with abandon. $13 for one pound. 1382 Danforth Ave., 647-748-1382,

The ones with three sauces

7 Roncy’s Ding-a-Wing takeout window has the crunch factor down to a science: not only are the buttermilk-fried wings so crispy you can hear them as you bite in, but the cayenne salt–dusted fries magically retain their texture for much longer than your average fry. Thanks to buttermilk and a seasoned brine, the meat is juicy, tender and evenly seasoned. Three sauce choices are available: their signature honey dill (a.k.a. Manitoba sauce), mustard-heavy Carolina BBQ or Dinger hot sauce, which gets a delightful kick from smoked chilis. $17 for one pound, $27 for two pounds. 397 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-546-1431,

The ones that are actually thighs

8 Okay, so these aren’t exactly wings but the chances of us doing a chicken thigh roundup are pretty slim. These boneless beauts from Victory Pizza, chef Victor Barry’s new pizza operation, are soaked in buttermilk and cooked sous-vide prior to frying, giving them an ultra-tender and juicy texture to go with their crisp exterior. They’re available in two flavours: Sichuan pepper and hot honey, an addictive combination with balanced heat and a hint of that special Sichuan mouth-buzz; and classic salt and pepper with a creamy, kinda nutty Stilton dipping sauce. Both are solid choices. (While you’re at it, you might as well get one of the perfect pizzas, too.) $16 for one pound. 88 Harbord St., 416-929-7788,