Get a Taste of the Super Bowl in Houston with Smoked Caramelized Chicken Wings

Photo: Julie Soefer

The Super Bowl is only a few days away, and we have a feeling chicken wings are on your menu. (If not, we suggest you rethink your choices right away.) While making your regular wings recipe would be fine for a week 6 matchup, but this is the big game—and proper snack attention must be paid. In other words, it’s time to turn the flavor.

Chris Shepherd—chef of Houston’s critically acclaimed Underbelly and head chef of On Location Experiences’ exclusive Stadium Club event at Super Bowl LI—suggests making his popular caramelized fish sauce chicken wings recipe, which he serves at his craft beer bar Hay Merchant. Fish sauce chicken wings are a popular dish in Vietnamese restaurants in Houston, Shepherd says, but he likes to add his own Texas twist by smoking the wings first. “They’re a perfect snack because they’re a little salty, a little sweet with a slight hint of spice,” he says.

At OLE’s Stadium Club, Shepherd and STK restaurant will be cooking up dishes that highlight the culinary diversity of Houston—which includes his South Texas Pork Tamales with Chili Con Carne and famous Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings. During Super Bowl week, OLE offers customized, exclusive fan experiences for the big game (like a pre-game concert by Lady Antebellum at NRG Stadium) and star-studded events (hello, Bruno Mars concert!) leading up to the Sunday showdown.

If you can’t make it out to Houston to take part in the festivities, you can still get a taste of the fun with chef Shepherd’s wings recipe below.

Smoked Caramelized Chicken Wings

For the Nuoc Mam sauce:
1/2 cup fish sauce (chef prefers Red Boat)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup distilled vinegar
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. sambal (optional)

Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a small pot. Let simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool.

For the chicken wings:
24 chicken wings, rinsed and dried
⅓ cup creole seasoning
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

1. Fire up your smoker and get it set for 300F. (If you don’t have smoker, baking or frying the wings will work just fine, advises Shepherd.)
2. Combine all spices until well incorporated and season generously over the wings. Toss to make sure chicken is seasoned well.
3. Place chicken in smoker and let smoke until cooked through, about 1 hour.

To assemble the wings:
2 cups Nuoc mam (directions above)
1 tbsp. sliced garlic
Smoked Chicken Wings (directions above)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup fried shallots

1. In a big pot or pan over medium heat, add 2 cups of the reserved Nuoc mam and sliced garlic and cook. Let the mixture reduce until it’s caramelized and sticky.

2. Add the smoked wings to the mixture and toss to coat the pieces in the caramelized sauce.

3. Add the butter to the pan, and stir and toss the chicken to melt the butter into the sauce.

4. Transfer the chicken to a platter, and sprinkle with crispy fried shallots.

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