This week, I jumped on board a food blog event hosted by Jessica, who has the wonderful blog SodiumGirl. The challenge? To create a favorite salty recipe with low-sodium content. While this obviously prohibited the use of salt, it also required the use of products with no more than 40 mg of sodium per serving. I was eager to give this a try, but a little apprehensive, since I love salt.
It was quite eye opening as I rummaged through my refrigerator and pantry in search of ingredients containing no more than 40 mg of sodium per serving. I am not only referring to staples such as mustard, cheese, sriracha, ketchup, mayonnaise, even Greek style yogurt. As I scrolled a database for more nutritional references, I discovered that many proteins have a generous amount of natural sodium. My goal, then, was to select a protein with a relatively low amount of salt and devise a recipe around it using low or no-sodium ingredients.
Happily, dark chicken meat came in at a respectable sodium level, with drumsticks and thighs packing 46 mg per serving. This got me thinking about one of my favorite salty foods best associated with bars and football games: spicy wings. So, I decided to try and make a low sodium version of spicy wings.
An important factor in making this recipe is the use of lots of spices. I rubbed the chicken with a blend of paprika, coriander, cumin and cayenne and let the wings marinate for several hours. Then I roasted them in a hot oven for an hour, basting them with a spicy sauce which was a simplified cross between a buffalo wing and a BBQ sauce. Normally a generous squirt of sriracha would play a role in a recipe like this, but weighing in at 100 mg per serving, I improvised. Instead, I whipped up a basting sauce with Tabasco, tomato paste and brown sugar. The results were excellent. The wings were crunchy, sticky and spicy – just the kind of finger-licking appetizer I imagined, minus any salt. And you know what? I didn’t miss the salt at all.
Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings
I use drummettes, which are the largest part of the chicken wing, because I prefer their relative meatiness. Serves 4 as an appetizer.
3 pounds chicken wings or drumettes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-4 tablespoons Tabasco (to taste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Spiced Sour Cream Sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of Tabasco
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
Prepare the wings:
Whisk oil, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne and black pepper together in a large bowl. Add drummettes and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. 30 minutes before roasting, remove chicken from refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425 F. (210 C.) Arrange drummettes on a oven grill pan. Roast 20 minutes. Turn chicken. Roast 20 minutes more.
While the chicken is roasting, make the basting sauce. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and whisk in tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar and lemon juice. Keep warm.
Remove chicken from oven and brush with tomato sauce. Return to oven and roast 10 minutes. Remove chicken and turn. Brush again with tomato sauce. Return to oven and roast until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Serve warm with Spiced Sour Cream Sauce for dipping.
Prepare the sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.