It's a simple two-step process and the key to making your favorite wing recipes.
Raw chicken wings on cutting board
Credit: Candice Bell / Getty Images

Wings are the perfect hearty appetizer to serve at a party, whether it's for a special game day or a casual backyard cookout. Esther Reynolds, a recipe developer and former butcher from Albany, New York, heralds the humble chicken wing as an irresistible snack. "My love of wings goes so deep that if I catch a whiff of a sauce-slicked pile being whisked past me at a bar or restaurant, I'll almost always throw in an order." But she doesn't limit enjoying this delicacy to only when she's out on the town: "Making wings at home means greater access to what I consider the ultimate appetizer," she says. "Plus, serving them straight from the oven or fryer helps guarantee an extra-crispy result."

Wings are generally sold as the whole wing or already cut into "drumette" and the midsection (aka: the "flat"). If you buy wings that are intact, you'll need to butcher them at home by separating them into three different sections: the drumette, midsection, and the wingtip. Follow these instructions for perfect results.

1. Place the wing on your cutting board, and, using your fingertip, find the joint between the wingtip and the midsection. Place your knife in the center of that joint and cut through the skin and tendon to separate. You may need to put some pressure on your knife to make a clean cut—do this by pressing down firmly on the top of the blade with your free hand.

2. Separate the drumette from the midsection by finding the joint that connects the two. Steady your knife in-between the joint and cut all the way through. If your knife meets a lot of resistance, reposition it until you've found the sweet spot in-between the joint so all you are cutting through is skin and tendon, not bone. 

That's it! Keep going until you've got a platters-worth of wings, then put them to work in recipes like the Test Kitchen's Favorite Buffalo Wings or these baked Maple-Dijon Chicken Wings. And if warm, fragrant spices what you are looking for, don't miss a chance to make a batch of Tandoori Chicken Wings], or adapt this recipe for Jerk Chicken Wings for the grill by following the instructions in the Cook's Notes.

Last but not least—don't toss those wing tips! They are loaded with collagen and great for fortifying a homemade chicken broth.


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