I will admit that I like any excuse to make wings for a crowd. These spiced pomegranate molasses wings have become a party staple. They’re always gone within seconds, and they’re a departure from the classic hot wing (which there is NOTHING wrong with). And they definitely go with beer, as all good wings should.
What do I want in a wing? Something that is crispy with a sauce that packs tons of flavor. Pomegranate molasses is a perfect base for wing sauce. Pomegranate molasses isn’t a molasses at all; it’s actually just pomegranate juice that is reduced until it is thick and syrupy. You can make your own at home, but it is easy to come by at any Middle Eastern or Persian market, online or at Whole Foods. Pomegranate molasses is tangy, a little sweet and with the dark and shiny sheen of real molasses. It’s a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, where it is added to all kinds of dishes from stews, to dips, glazes for meats, and more. If you’ve ever read a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, than you know it’s also one of his favorite ingredients to add to vegetable dishes.
These wings get generously marinated in a spice mixture of coriander, cumin, cardamom, allspice and pepper. To add some heat, the pomegranate molasses sauce gets Sriracha, which is a decidedly un-Middle Eastern ingredient, but a perfect complement to the dish with its peppery garlicky spiciness. To make cooking for a crowd a little easier, the wings are baked not fried; they still crisp up nicely, but you don’t have to deal with the mess, work or the extra calories that come with deep frying. Spiced pomegranate molasses wings have become a staple party food recipe in our house, Super Bowl Sunday or otherwise.
For the wings:
- 2 lbs chicken wings
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp ground allspice
For the pomegranate molasses sauce:
- ⅓ cup pomegranate molasses
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup or agave, or to taste
- 2 Tbsp Sriracha, or to taste
- 1 Tbsp oil (coconut, safflower or canola)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter (margarine will also work)
- Pat the chicken wings dry and place them in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt and spices. Add the spices to the chicken, and toss the wings until they are all well coated. Cover and refrigerate the wings for 1 hour to allow the chicken to marinate in the spice mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a rack on a baking sheet and spray or brush the rack with oil. If you don’t have a rack to cook the wings on, you can place them directly on a baking sheet; they will just get slightly less crisped. Add the marinated wings to the baking sheet, leaving a half inch of room between each wing.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cooked through with an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Flip the wings once after the first 15 minutes of cooking.
- While the wings are in the oven, prepare the pomegranate molasses sauce. Add the pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, Sriracha, and a tablespoon of oil to a small pot. Heat on medium low, and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, or until it has slightly thickened. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed, or more Sriracha/maple syrup depending on your preference and the tanginess of the pomegranate molasses.
- Once the sauce has simmered and slightly reduced, remove it from the heat and add the vegan butter; this will add a smooth richness to the sauce.
- Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a large heatproof bowl, pour the warm sauce all over the chicken and toss until everything is well coated. Serve hot with your favorite sides or dippings sauces.