Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings

Don't sacrifice flavor when making healthier wings for your next tailgate, try these Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings.

Don't sacrifice flavor when making healthier wings for your next tailgate, try these Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings.

One of the biggest challenges I hear from Clients when they are trying to make healthier eating choices is how to navigate parties and get-togethers while still enjoying some of their favorite foods. It certainly can be a challenge but one that has some easy solutions.

First, always remember that eating "healthy" is not about "good" foods and "bad" foods but more about making mindful choices that fuel us. Eating an overall balanced diet means mindfully indulging in a few of your weekly football favorites shouldn't be cause for concern. In addition to that though, I always find it's a good idea to offer to bring a few healthier items.

With tailgate season upon us, wings are definitely an item many may think are on the chopping block thanks for their new healthier habits. Think again! Simply by revisiting some of the ingredients and ensuring they are high-quality, whole food ingredients, you can still enjoy this perfect party dish.

Sweet without the sugar. These Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings use a special ingredient to give them flavor and a finger licking good coating.

Sweet without the sugar. These Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings use a special ingredient to give them flavor and a finger licking good coating.

So what makes these wings so special? 

Well, aside from being slightly reminiscent of an Old Fashioned cocktail thanks to the bourbon and orange combo, they also have absolutely no refined sugar such as honey or maple syrup.

So what gives these wings a hint of sweetness?

Dates!

It may surprise you to learn what a wonderfully nutritious food the date actually is. Sure, it is full of (natural) sugar but it is also packed with dietary fiber which make these a great blood sugar stabilizing option. They are also incredibly digestible which is great since they contain lots of iron, calcium and Vitamins A & K which can help your eyesight.

Of course, however, sugar is still sugar even when it comes from a natural source. However, a few dates incorporated into this wings sauce is a perfect way to reap the benefits of dates plus get the sweet flavor. This hint of sugar also helps the wings get caramelized in the oven, giving them a crispy exterior and juicy interior. 

I would love to know what other tailgating classics you would like to give a healthy makeover. Let me know in the comments!

Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings

Serves: 4

Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken wings (preferably pasture-raised), cut into pieces

5 Medjool Dates

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup warm water 

1/4 cup bourbon

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

1 teaspoon grass-fed butter or ghee

Pinch ground cloves

Chives, for garnish

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. 

2. In a food processor or high-speed blender, add the dates, orange juice, water and bourbon. Pulse a few times to break up the dates before blending until smooth.

3. Transfer the date mixture to a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat.  Stir in the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, ghee and the pinch of cloves. 

4. Continue cooking the date mixture, stirring frequently,  for about 10 minutes or until slightly reduced and thick. Turn off the heat after 10 minutes and let cool 5 minutes.

5. In a large bowl, add the wings and generously season with salt and pepper. Add half of the sauce and toss to coat. Lay the wings in a single layer, skin side down, on the baking sheet and place in the oven.

6. Cook for 20 minutes and then flip over and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with remaining sauce. Place back in the oven for another 10 minutes or for extra crispy wings, place under the broiler set on high for 10 minutes (flip halfway through).

7. Remove and let cool for 2 minutes before garnishing with chives and serving!