Sticky Curried Chicken Wings

These sticky curried chicken wings make the most of beet sugar syrup, a little-used ingredient you should add to your arsenal.

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They do their best to hide it, but beets have a sweet side, and it’s time you knew about it.

What Is It?

Beet sugar syrup is simply the juice of the sugar beet that’s been boiled down into a viscous, garnet-toned molasses. An alternative to the sugarcane-based molasses that graces grocery store shelves, this lesser-known offering is most popular in Eastern Europe, where most of it is produced. The syrup’s flavor is surprisingly neutral, save for a saccharine hit, and lives somewhere between sorghum syrup and dark corn syrup.

What Do I Do With It?

Being utterly devoid of the earthy flavor associated with beets is part of the syrup’s appeal: The straightforward sugariness makes beet sugar syrup the ideal blank canvas for other flavors to enhance. Get creative with a little acid and spice and use it as a glaze base for chicken, beef, pork or root vegetables, or do as the Europeans do and spread it right onto a sandwich. When using it in baking, it’s an easy 1:1 substitute for sugarcane molasses, corn syrup or honey in most recipes. In traditional gingerbread, it stays in the background while the spices shine through.

Sticky Curried Chicken Wings

Make these as an appetizer for a crowd; the recipe is easily multiplied. Stagger a double recipe by five minutes to work on one pan while the other is finishing, and everything will come out hot at the end.

Serves | 6 to 8 |

  • 1½ Tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
  • 2 lbs chicken wings, rinsed, patted dry and separated at the joint into 2 pieces
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp beet sugar syrup
  • 2½ tsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp chile-garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime, divided
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

| Preparation | Preheat oven to 350˚F. Rub a lipped sheet pan with olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss chicken wings in 1½ Tbsp olive oil until evenly coated; season generously with sea salt and pepper. Spread out in single layer on prepared pan, giving each segment space to cook evenly. Bake for 30 minutes; remove and use tongs to turn wings over to opposite side. Increase oven to 400˚F and place back in oven; bake for another 25 minutes.

While chicken is baking, in a large bowl, combine melted butter, beet sugar syrup, soy sauce, chile-garlic sauce, curry powder, ginger, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, ¼ tsp black pepper and lime zest. Whisk together; squeeze in juice from half of lime (reserving other half for serving) and stir to incorporate.

Remove chicken from oven and transfer to butter mixture; toss thoroughly to coat. Chicken should take on about half of butter mixture. Transfer chicken back to hot pan and place in oven for 5 minutes to caramelize glaze. Remove from oven and toss again in remaining butter mixture.

| To Serve | Transfer wings to large serving tray. Drizzle any remaining mixture over top. Squeeze remaining lime juice over top and garnish with cilantro leaves; serve immediately.

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.