As fried chicken recipes go, this is as simple as it gets. Seasoned with salt and black pepper (toasted first in a cast-iron skillet for an extra-pungent kick), it’s a quick starter and snack that also seasons your new No.8 Dutch Oven.
Toasting peppercorns in a dry skillet before grinding them makes the spice more aromatic, smoky, and pungent. Once you start using this trick, you may never stop.
When combined with flour, cornstarch helps fried foods from absorbing moisture, which makes them extra crispy.
Use this method for making extra crispy garlic, a crunchy topping you can sprinkle over...well, anything.
Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings with Crispy Garlic
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Canola or peanut oil, for frying
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (about the size of peppercorns)
2 pounds chicken wingettes and/or drumettes
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
1 lemon, for zesting
In a cast iron skillet, toast the peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a pepper grinder.
Pour 2 inches of oil in a No.8 Dutch Oven oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it turns light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes (once the garlic starts to change color, it will brown quickly). Using a small fine-mesh strainer, scoop the garlic from the oil and press with a spoon or ladle to squeeze out all of the oil. Spread the garlic out on paper towels to drain (it will turn crispy as it cools). The crispy garlic can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Continue heating the oil until it reaches 375°F. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and flour in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Place the chicken wings in a large bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the cornstarch mixture and toss the wings until even coated.
Working in batches, remove the chicken wings from the bowl and tap off any excess cornstarch mixture. Fry the wings in batches, turning them over a couple of times, until golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Return the frying oil to 375°F between batching. Transfer the fried chicken to the wire rack and immediately season on both sides with salt and pepper. When all of the wings are cooking, transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the crispy garlic and scallions, grate some lemon zest over the chicken and serve.