Frank Hartigan's Szechuan Pepper-Salt Wings

Frank Hartigan is a cook’s cook: “I get my hands on the food every day,” he says—“if I don’t, I get crabby.” That culinary commitment explains why the Hamilton Hall cook recently distinguished himself nationwide: Hartigan was a second-place winner in the Tyson Foods College and University Wings Contest for his Szechuan Pepper-Salt Wings. His savory snacks will be included in a Tyson wings e-cookbook but you don’t have to wait for it, just follow this recipe.

Szechuan Pepper-Salt Chicken Wings

Yield: approximately 4 servings as main course, 6 as an appetizer

You Will Need:

Chicken wings, about 24 pieces

1 bunch green onions

2 or 3 fresh jalapeño or serrano peppers, or to taste

1 head of garlic

1 cup of cornstarch, maybe a bit more

2 tablespoons or so Szechuan peppercorns

1 tablespoon ground white pepper

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder

Oil enough for deep frying

Thaw wings if frozen. Pat very dry with paper towels. Set aside.

Make the dry sauce: Grind the Szechuan peppercorns (hulls only, discard any little black seeds) into a very fine powder in a spice grinder or, more laboriously, in a mortar and pestle. In a small bowl, mix the ground Szechuan pepper, white pepper, salt, sugar, and 5-spice powder.

Prepare the garnish: Slice the jalapeño or serrano peppers into thin rings. Peel the garlic into cloves and slice the cloves thinly. Mince the white part of the green onions and combine with garlic and peppers, set aside. Cut the green part of the green onions into long shreds on the bias, set aside.

Fry the wings: Preheat oil to 350 degrees F. Toss the chicken wing sections in lots of cornstarch until generously coated. Knock off excess cornstarch. Fry the wings, in batches if necessary, in 350-degree oil for 4 to 5 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165F for 15 seconds. Hold on a cookie sheet in a 180-degree oven if needed until all wings are fried.

Sauté the garnish: While the wings are frying, toss the garlic, peppers, and minced green onion in a bit of oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick pan until wilted, aromatic, and golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

Toss it all together: In a large bowl, combine wings and garnish and toss together. Sprinkle with dry sauce, tossing often until evenly and well coated. Serve on a platter, garnished with green onion shreds.