Alton Brown's Inventive Steamer Basket Made Just For Good Eats

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Chicken wings can be the perfect party food, but they can also be a complete hassle to make. The next time you're craving chicken wings, but looking to avoid the mess of using the deep fryer, you may want to try a recipe from Alton Brown that promises crispy, buffalo wings without the struggles that come with cooking with hot oil.

Unlike most fried chicken, buffalo wings are not breaded, which means you have options when it comes to how you're going to cook them. Brown prefers to use the oven to bake the perfect buffalo wings. But, as he demonstrated on "Good Eats," that is easier said than done, as the high temperature needed to effectively crisp the chicken skin surpasses the smoke point of the chicken fat and is a surefire way to have your smoke detector screaming. Unfortunately, turning down the heat isn't a viable option either as the chicken will take longer to cook and will likely dry out. 

So, what is one to do to get crispy chicken without a fryer? Brown suggests a two-cook method that involves steaming the chicken to cook away excess fat and baking it at a high temperature to prevent overcooking and eliminating smoking grease.

DIY kitchen staple

There's just one problem with this idea of steaming your chicken wings before baking them: It's a pain in the neck. Most metal steamer baskets aren't very big and chicken wings tend to be a food that is consumed in bulk. To combat this, as he shared on "Good Eats," Brown created his own solution, the Steel Lotus. As explained on his website, the Steel Lotus is a multi-level steaming basket Brown built by removing the handles and center poles from three collapsible steamer baskets, which can be bought for less than $10 on Amazon, and connecting them with a threaded screw rod and some nuts. The new, larger basket triples the steamer capacity and allows home chefs to steam large amounts of chicken — or whatever else they might want to steam — at once in a tall pot with about an inch and a half of water (per "Good Eats"). As Brown notes, the steamer is very useful and can be stored inside a container or by wrapping rubber bands around the collapsible leaves.

Once the chicken has been steamed to remove excess fat, you simply need to let it chill for a while in the fridge on paper towels, then throw it in a 425-degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes on high heat to get the skin nice and crispy before tossing it in your favorite sauce.