~Slow Cooker Japanese Teriyaki-Style Chicken Wings~

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09f5d2e8970dWhen it comes to Buffalo-style wings, my mindset is, everybody into the pot.  Nothing beats the 14-minute deep-fry.  Sure, wings can be oven-roasted or grilled, but, it's my opinion those two methods compromise the end result -- the first doesn't render them crispy enough, the latter dries them out.  Oh gosh yes, for chicken-wing lovers who are fearful of frying, they are seemingly wonderful.  That said, nothing can compete with a deep-fried chicken wing straight out of the fryer basket -- crispy outer skin, fall-off-the-bone tender inner meat.  That's my opinion.  Period.  

As odd as this is going to sound, the crockpot works great too.  Huh?  The crockpot?  Yep, crazily it does.  First, the wings slowly and gently cook in almost any type of sauce for a lengthy, 3 hours (aka they've got plenty of time to suck up all that flavor).  Second, they go under the broiler for a brief, 5-6 minutes to sort-of crisp them up.  It's a decidedly-different approach resulting in a decidedly-different outcome from traditional deep-fried wings, but, they are oh-so flavorful. They're downright mouth-watering, slightly-sticky and lip-smacking succulent.  Different, but really good.

A bit about teriyaki and teriyaki sauce:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2dcd867970cTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beef, chicken, fish or seafood marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar in the marinade that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:

A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken, fish or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooled.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c9596c70970bHomemade teriyaki sauce is thick and drizzly.  At its thinnest, it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and, at the discretion of the cook, in many cases thicker than that.  That said, many store-brought brands are watery (similar in consistency to soy sauce), and, they will not work in this recipe.  Ideally, the teriyaki sauce should be similar in consistency to a hearty barbecue sauce.  What I keep on-hand and recommend is: Panda Express Mandarin brand teriyaki sauce.

Meet my Crockpot casserole crock:

IMG_3106Meet Crockpot's Casserole Crock. For me, it's my latest acquisition in a long line of slow cookers.  I now currently own ten different brands, models and sizes -- which is odd because, me, not-the-queen-of-crockpot-cooking, uses a slow cooker, maybe, five-six times a year. While Crockpot rightfully peddles this one as a casserole crock (because it is essentially a 13" x 9" x 3" casserole), and, it's intended to make-and-take slow-cooked casseroles (it's got lock-in-place handles and a stay-cool handle for carrying the entire contraption), I saw it as a vehicle for 2 1/2-3 pounds of chicken wings, to cook evenly, in comfort -- single-layer spa-style.

Japanese teriyaki meets American chicken wings:

IMG_19112 1/2-3  pounds chicken wings, drumettes and flats

1 1/2-2  cups from 1, 20-ounce bottle Panda Express Mandarin Teriyaki sauce, or my homemade teriyaki sauce

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

sesame seeds, for garnish

thinly-sliced scallion tops, for garnish

additional teriyaki sauce, for dipping and drizzling

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09fc9b8f970d IMG_1912Step 1.  Spray the inside of the crock casserole with no-stick cooking spray. Arrange the wings, in a single layer, side-by-side and close together, slightly-overlapping if necessary (just don't pile them on top of each other).

IMG_1919 IMG_1919 IMG_1919 IMG_1928~Step 2. Slowly drizzle 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce, evenly over the tops of the wings. Cover crockpot. Cook on high for  2 1/2-3 hours (2 1/2 hours for smaller wings, 3 hours for larger wings).

IMG_1930 IMG_1930 IMG_1930 IMG_1952 IMG_1952~Step 3. Preheat broiler with oven rack positioned about 5" under the heat.  Line a large 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan with aluminum foil, then place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of pan, followed by a wire rack.  Remove the lid from crockpot.  One-at-a-time remove the wings.  Arrange yhr wings, side-by-side and slightly-apart (no overlapping) on prepared baking pan.  Using a pastry brush generously paint the the tops, sides and undersides with additional teriyaki sauce (about 3/4 cup).  Lightly-sprinkle tops of wings with sesame seeds.

IMG_1956 IMG_1956~ Step 4. Place pan of wings under the broiler 5-6 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and sesame seeds are starting to show signs of light browning. Watch carefully.  Teriyaki sauce contains sugar, which goes from nicely-browned to burned quickly.

Take a taste & plate 'em & serve 'em (w/plenty of napkins):

IMG_1967Slow Cooker Japanese Teriyaki-Style Chicken Wings: Recipe yields 20-24 wings/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  Crockpot's casserole crock or Crockpot; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; wire cooling rack; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c9598585970bCook's Note: How you cook spare-ribs is your business.  Here in Happy Valley, sometimes we smoke 'em, sometimes we grill 'em, occasionally I make them in the oven, and, recently, I've started experimenting with slow-cooking them.  Past that, even if you aren't a fan of crocket science, it might interest you to know that Japanese-seven-spice blend and teriyaki sauce is a delicious alternative to typical ribs: ~ Teriyaki Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)