Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken Wings - What's Your Pleasure?

Spicy, Zesty, Zingy, Mild, Medium,
Hot, Nuclear?

Chicken Wings... what started as a bar room trend in Buffalo, NY has become standard fare at many eating establishment across the country.  Wings have gone beyond being available at just restaurants or bars, as appetizers or entrees; they are now served at parties, a must-have for watching sporting events, and even dinner at home.

Personally, I’ve become quite fussy when it comes to ordering them out somewhere. I find most restaurants cook them way too fast making them a little too juicy on the inside, and then speedily toss them in some sort of sauce.  The end result - wings do not really have any personality.  

Growing up I think I was spoiled when it came to wings. There was a great restaurant in St. Louis that my mom and I went to a lot for chicken wings called Culpepper’s, in the Central West End. Their wings are the standard by which I measure all others. Not only are their wings extraordinary, they also conjure  up happy memories of my mom and I spending many a weekend with friends chowing down on these little red hot treats .  Before or after a Cardinal’s game, (both baseball and football – that is before they defected to Phoenix) the restaurant would be packed with wing aficionados, tables filled with plates of wings, and bowls of their stripped carcasses.  My mom asked one of the cooks how they prepared their wings that made them so different from other restaurants and his answer was, “We fry them quick, then baste with our own sauce, and place under the broiler for a few minutes.” Let me tell you, this process makes a world of difference in taste and texture!  

Granted, I may have romanticized my wing experiences...
Nevertheless, the fact is, this style of preparation is the best way to enjoy a great wing. 

Nowadays, there are so many different flavors for chicken wings; Asian, Sweet BBQ, Jerk, Garlic, Mango, Cajun, you name it... it’s been created. Personally, I have an affection for the traditional buffalo flavor – medium heat.  You probably have at least two different chain chicken wing restaurants in your town and, hopefully, a couple of locally owned independent restaurants that have wings on their menu. I encourage you to patronize them first, before the chain...  as someone who represents locally owned restaurants; it’s the flavor of your hometown that makes food taste better.

I prefer mine naked...  Get your mind out of the gutter; I am not eating them au naturel, although bibs could be in order if they’re really messy and the sauce drips down the front of my shirt. No, I’m talking about, no flour coating, just the crisp skin of the chicken and the sauce.   I find that flour dilutes the whole wing experience.  But that’s my own opinion.

Now for the recipe:
SRQ Foodie’s Buffalo Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings – 8 per person
Peanut Oil – enough to evenly fry wings
Stick of Unsalted Butter
Heavy cast iron wok

Pre-heat oven to custom broil 350°. Heat peanut oil in wok. Rinse wings. Cut wing tips off chicken wings, the cut double boned piece from drumstick. Pat dry. Once oil is ready, fry up-to five wings at a time.  While oil is heating, mix one bottle of Frank’s “Original” Cayenne Pepper sauce in a saucepan, with half a bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Sauce and the stick of butter.  Heat on low until butter is melted.  Keep on warm until wings are ready for next step.  Once wings are crispy and cooked thoroughly, remove from oil and let rest for one minute to let excess oil drip off. Then place cooked wings in a bowl and toss with a ladle full of sauce. Toss to cover and place on a cooking sheet.  Once you have cooked all your wings and tossed in sauce, place wings on top shelf in oven for 5 minutes.  Drizzle small amount of extra sauce on top of the finished wings if desired. Enjoy with light salad and ranch dipping sauce.

Here’s what I’ve found, if you let the wings rest and then broil, the sauce will absorb into the meat. This cooking process really makes the meat tender and flavorful.  

I make my own ranch dressing... I find the pre-made versions taste a smidge artificial.  Besides, it really doesn’t take any amount of time to make. I like both ranch and blue cheese, so this recipe combines the best of both.

My recipe:  
SRQ Foodies Ranch-Blue Cheese Dressing/Dip

¾ C. Mayonnaise
½ C. Sour Cream
3 T. Buttermilk
½ tsp. each:
Dried Chives
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Salt to taste
¼ to ½ C. Crumbled Blue Cheese

Mix the mayo, sour cream, buttermilk together. Add spices and crumble blue cheese. Taste and add salt to your preference. Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Dressing can be used for dipping wings, crudité or tossed with iceberg lettuce for a light and refreshing salad.

My cousin Dylan has a similar recipe, the difference is, he adds a pinch of cayenne. I’m going to have to try his next time. He also leaves out the buttermilk for dip, but adds it for dressing. Mine is sort of a combination of both.

So there you have it, my interpretation for Buffalo style chicken wings and dip. I made it last Tuesday night for our weekly neighbor supper club and Tricia proclaimed, “This is a keeper!” I was excited they turned out so well!  The downside, now I’m craving them every day! Honestly, I could eat these every day, but then they wouldn’t be so captivatingly awesome.

Until next time... 

May your life be as delicious as your dishes!
SRQ Foodie

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