2009 June: Give Me My Wings

2009 June: Give Me My WingsWhat is it about wings? They have become so popular that I wouldn’t be surprised if some scientist is at work trying to figure out how to come up with a chicken that has four wings. It’s no surprise people love them — they’re fun, fast and qualify as finger food. But not all wings are created equal. I have had chicken wings that were so scrawny I figured they might have come from a pigeon. I have even had wings that didn’t even taste like chicken. And I have had chicken wings that were so lacking in flavor it was an insult to the name, let alone the chicken.

Here are some of the basic facts: The secret is in the sauce(s). But I figured you already knew that, or you would simply be serving fried chicken wings. The ingredients? The chicken wings, of course. And the rest: hot pepper sauce, white vinegar, butter and salt. The level of heat is determined by the amount of hot pepper sauce used. Flour and cayenne pepper are also basic ingredients for consideration. For me personally, I like to add a bit of garlic (or garlic powder) and to play around with flavors.

That said, sometimes basic is best. Here’s a simple recipe that’s sure to please. ?

Hot Wings

Yield: 24 wings, or about 3 to 4 servings (scale up in direct proportion)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄4 teaspoon paprika

1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste) Pinch of salt

1⁄3 cup unsalted butter

1⁄2 cup vinegar-based hot sauce

1 teaspoon black pepper

12 whole meaty chicken wings (chop off the tips and discard. Cut each wing in half at the joint.)

This is basically a five-step process:

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt.

2. In a sauce pan, melt the butter, hot sauce and the black pepper. Keep the sauce warm.

3. Toss the wings in the fl our mixture to coat.

4. Deep fry the wings (375 F for 10 to12 minutes should do it) and drain.

5. Toss the fried wings in the hot sauce to coat. That’s it. Simple. Now serve the wings with a dipping sauce on the side (bleu cheese sauce or dressing and celery sticks are standard).

Quick ‘n’ Easy Bleu Cheese Dressing Combine 8 ounces of a softened blue-veined cheese with ½ cup sour cream and ½ cup heavy whipping cream. Use a fork to mash the bleu cheese as you add the sour cream and whipping cream to combine. Whip it up to smooth it out. If you want to zip the dressing up a bit add some cayenne pepper.

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Chicken Wing Pizza

This is such a good-tasting pizza you will wonder why you never thought of it before.

Makes one 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)

Make the chicken wings, following the basic recipe, through Step 5. Pull the meat off the bones (you will need about 10-12 ounces of meat). Combine pizza sauce with Louisiana hot sauce (adjust heat to taste). Spread (lightly) the sauce over the crust.

Add the pulled chicken wing meat to the pizza, spreading it evenly. Top the pizza with shredded mozzarella and bleu cheese (to taste, but I use a ratio of 2⁄3 mozzarella to 1⁄3 bleu cheese). Bake and serve.

Alternatively, for this pizza, instead of combining the mozzarella with the bleu cheese, just go with the mozzarella. After the pizza is baked, and just before serving, drop dollops of the bleu cheese dressing (see recipe on page 51) on top of the melted mozzarella. And if you want to get really fancy, you can garnish the pizza with celery sticks.

Pat Bruno is Pizza Today’s resident chef and a regular contributor. He is the former owner and operator of a prominent Italian cooking school in Chicago and is a food critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.