Even though it’s been nearly seven years(!) since we last were in Caldes d’Estrac and eating at El Taller, I still think about their signature roasted meats served with a ramekin of allioli made completely from scratch. (By that I mean they made the emulsion only using some garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil and built it by creating it in a mortar and pestle.) As our building would rightly frown on us trying to install a wood-burning oven, we’ve tried a few different ways to roast chicken in our gas oven to best replicate the intense heat of El Taller’s ovens, but I’ve never been happy with the results.
That is, until I tried air-frying chicken wings.
So here’s the thing with wings: because there’s so much skin covering the meat, roasting them means that you render a lot of fat which can get kind of smoky. Alton Brown suggests steaming them prior to roasting in order to get crisp skin without needing to deep-fry them, and while that technique works…it’s also incredibly tedious. Using the convection heat in the air fryer allows you to skip that step, and all you need is about 16 minutes–eight minutes on each side–and they come out crispy while the meat is still moist. I put some pepper on to season the wings, but I also finish the wings with more freshly-ground pepper so that you still get that flavor.
The only limitation to this recipe is that you can only do so many wings at a time, so if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll need to cook the wings in batches. Since they take a relatively short amount of time, this isn’t the end of the world, and it’s accessible enough that you can try them for yourself during the week for a simple, interesting entree.
While I will take the time to make proper allioli to go along with these wings, I also understand that circumstances don’t always allow for that, and in that case, making a modern allioli with egg is fast, satisfying, and also quite delicious.
Air fryer Catalonian-style chicken wings with allioli
- 1.5 lb chicken wings, flats and drumettes (separated, wing tip removed and saved for stock)
- Cooking spray
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, divided
- Allioli–traditional recipe here and modern recipe here
Special equipment: air fryer (specifically a convection toaster oven)
To make the wings, liberally spray the air fryer basked with cooking spray. Season the wings liberally with salt and half of the pepper, and arrange the wings on the basket, spraying them with a little cooking spray. Cook the wings for eight minutes at 400 degrees, and then flip the wings over and cook them for another eight minutes. When the wings come out, season them more with extra pepper and serve with the allioli.