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Is It Getting Hot in Here or Is It Just My Wings?

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Apparently, the kooks here at LGM think it’s cool to talk about food. So I’m gonna!

Until I perfected my own recipe, Buffalo wings were a food I enjoyed in theory more than in practice. Often the wings I tried were alternately sweet, bland and too evocative of BBQ or bitter and vinegary. Blech. My ideal wing is comprised of two crucial components: very crisp, golden skin and a clingy sauce that is bright and tangy with the tiniest hint of sweetness.

Hey, those are some nice wings, too. "To Market" by B. Spencer

I thought I had created the ultimate hot wing until two nights ago, when the happiest of accidents made me think that it may be time to change my formula.

Normally, I make wings using Frank’s Redhot because it is consistently the top-rated hot sauce. So, a couple a nights ago I go into my fridge–having promised my husband and wing fanatic I’d make wings–to find we do not have any Frank’s Redhot. In fact, all we have in the fridge is a little bottle of Cholula and a big bottle of Sriracha. I proceed with the wings, but I am pretty worried about what kind of frankensauce is going to result. Well, it ended up being the best batch of wings I’d ever made.

Sriracha-cha!

I originally chalked up my success to the weird combination of sauces I had on hand, but I actually think the Cholula was not a key factor; I really think my success was all due to the Sriracha. Sriracha is thicker, sweeter, hotter, and more garlicky than Frank’s Redhot (and many hot sauces, I’d imagine). So it adds a depth of flavor and substantial clinginess that my formula had been missing. I think I’m in love.

Here is my revised recipe for great wings:

First you have to crisp the wings. For a couple of years I made them by roasting them in the oven, but recently gave that up in favor of frying them, simply because in order to render enough fat to get them crisp, you pretty much have to destroy your oven. Nevertheless, it’s an option. If you’d like to oven-“fry” your wings, dry them, toss them with salt and pepper, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, giving them room to breath, put them in a 475 degree oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. When they’re done, toss them with your sauce.

Alternately, you can deep fry your wings. Bring your peanut or canola oil (or any oil that can take the heat) up to 350 degrees. Add your wings, frying in batches so as not to bring down the temperature of the oil. Fry for approximately 13 minutes. Dry on paper towels and toss them with your sauce.

My Revised Hot Wings Sauce Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup Frank’s Redhot sauce
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • a generous pinch of sugar
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

Stir over med-low heat, ’til combined and heated through. Makes enough for 5 pounds of wings.

 

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  • aimai

    I’ve got nothing to say about the sauce issue because every recipe I make changes so much from one to the other that I can’t say I have a single recipe. However, on the subject of the wings, one might also try a dry spice rub with a light dusting of corn starch. I recently learned this trick for crisping the skin of a whole chicken. The corn starch soaks up the moisture and enables the skin to really roast, rather than steam in its own liquid. I haven’t tried it with wings yet because I’m the only one in my family who is passionate about wings and likes to eat the last boney tip, bones and all.

    • bspencer

      That’s a great idea and one I’d like to try.

  • oldster

    That upper image–“To Market”–did you really make that?

    Cause if so, then damn! I’m impressed.

    I wish I could make cool stuff. But it requires ingredients I don’t have, e.g. talent.

    I think I always expect academic bloggers to be more or less like me, i.e. one-dimensional talk-machines who are good at one thing, tops. Maybe two, if you include “snarking” as a skill-set.

    But multi-dimensional ability is entirely alien to my world-view. Rauchway used to do that shit, being musical and writing fiction and stuff in addition to being a boring academic, and it always made me seethe with envy.

    Though, come to think of it, I do have a talent for that, too. A triple threat! Boring academics, snarking, and seething with envy!

    • Change is gonna do ya good

      Just rest now, oldster. IT will be okay ;) These kids today are multidimensional. And notice how the offerings of the “new blood” — a welcome addition I might add — make no claims to academic authority! Which is refreshing in and of itself… not that there is anything wrong with professors and the like :)

      That is an arresting image. A little detail on the transfer to digital imagery would be welcome. If the artist would be inclined?

      • oldster

        Yeah, you’re right.

        I get grumpy when I need to nap. Also, after I have napped. I get less grumpy during my nap, unless somebody interrupts my goddamn nap. Then I get grumpy.

        I’ll try to mellow. Talent is good! Youth is good! All hail talented youth!

        Just not on *my* lawn.

      • bspencer

        Sure thing. It’s actually a digital image–a combination of photo manipulation and digital painting. So some of it is a compilation of digital images and some of it is elements I painted. But it begins and ends as pixels on a screen.

      • Anonymous

        Calvin Trillin wrote an essay years ago about a linguist conference that included enough musicians to form a band. So not such a new thing. I’m studying accounting but am also setting up an Etsy store to sell handmade purses (and I’m no kid myself and also grumpy).

        • STH

          That above was me.

        • bspencer

          Please to be linking. I’d love to look.

          • STH

            Not up yet ,I’m afraid, and having trouble finding time to work on it..

            I like what you’re bringing to the joint, btw.

            • bspencer

              Thanks very much.

              Please do link when you can.

    • bspencer

      I did make it, and I’m so pleased you like it.

      Well, I frequently seethe with envy myself, so I hear ya.

      I’m actually not an academic. I never graduated college, and the ones I did attend weren’t exactly Harvard and Princeton.

      • oldster

        Yeah, I did like it, but maybe you could help me out on a cooking question:

        whenever I seethe my chicken wings with envy, I find that the skin gets too wet and a little rubbery, and the tips are already burned before the main part of the flesh is cooked through.

        Is this something that would be helped by a dry spice rub, or is it my seething technique? Maybe I should be braising with bitterness or roasting with resentment instead?

        • bspencer

          I think any time you don’t cook with love, that’s a recipe for trouble.

          Aaaaand, I will probably be fired for making that joke.

          • Bill Murray

            love is the secret ingredient. that or lard

            • bspencer

              I don’t wanna give away blog spoilers, but I think Erik is planning on doing a post about bacon. I think he may make some enemies.

            • DrDick

              Lard is love.

              • BigHank53

                Pork is a fruit. It grows on pigs.

                (Shamelessly stolen. Name the source for bonus points!)

        • Bill Murray

          i try to marinate in envy, but then I like the green color this gives. especially for eggs and ham

        • herr doktor bimler

          Oldster is having teething troubles with his seething troubles.

  • Jeffrey Beaumont

    Sriacha is so sweet though! The other version, sambolik, or whatever the word is, is so much less sugary.

    • It is sweet, which is why I would not go to an all-sriracha sauce. You’re thinking of Sambal Oelek.

      Updating this post to say: I wish I weren’t an atheist because I still want to get t-shirts printed up that say “Sambal Oelek is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

  • Mrs__B believes in making her own salad dressing. One of the more frequent recipes in the rotation uses Sriracha as a prime ingredient.

    Mmmmmm…hot salad…

    • bspencer

      Please to be sharing her recipe.

      • She gets into mad-scientist* mode whilst cooking. I’ll see if I can sneak it out.

        *I keep telling her that the secret to riches for an immunologist is to go to work for SPECTRE or KAOS, but does she listen?

        • bspencer

          That’s silly.The secret to riches is good Sriracha recipes.

    • LisaH

      I tried this once, mad scientist on a whim, and it was awful — I would like more expert help. Thanks!

  • Scott Lemieux

    2 heaping tablespoons Sriracha

    Sold!

    I hope at some point you can point us to a good recipe for South Carolina-style vinegar/mustard BBQ sauce.

    • bspencer

      Ya know, I’m from South Carolina, so it’s weird I’ve never made Carolina style BBQ. I may have to remedy that!

      • Is there any substantive difference between North Carolina and South Carolina when it comes to bbq?

        • In NC, you stir counterclockwise.

        • bspencer

          No. I think they’re basically the same. I Googled and couldn’t find any info detailing any difference. I think all Carolina-style BBQ is mustard-vinegar-based.

        • Halloween Jack

          There are two distinct variations in NC; in the past I’ve seen a map with the dividing line between Lexington- and Eastern-style BBQ, but can’t find it now. But I did find you this.

    • Parmenides

      Carolina bbq is a misnomer, in SC there is actually three types and I don’t know how many there are in NC. But the main difference in NC and SC bbq as popularly known is that NC bbq is wet mopped with a highly peppered vinegar sauce and served plain. SC bbq isn’t generally wet mopped, and the mustard sauce is a vinegar mustard powder and a thousand other spices recipe that in my experience is thickened with onion.

  • Mitt “Mitt” Romney

    Like many Americans, Ann and I frequently enjoy the consumption of foodstuffs, but I am afraid that the spiciness of this particular dish would be much too harsh for us, in the sense of having more spice than we are used to consuming. I recall once when one of our cooks, I believe the one at La Jolla but mayne it was New Hampshire, was preparing our usual Amercian cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread, but somehow a flake of black pepper ended up in Ann’s sandwich! She took to her chambers for the better part of the next week, emerging only for brief periods to scream racial obscenities at the careless domestic. To this day she makes me swear that we won’t posthumously baptize that cook into the Church. Anyway, it’s so unusual for us to hear of the consumption of the chicken, let alone the wings of the chicken, that I just wanted to express my amazement!

    “Sriracha.” Outstanding! I’m certain that’s gibberish, but it sure sounds exciting!

    • bspencer

      Mitt, if I haven’t told you this before, I enjoy the heck out of your posts.

      Sorry for the blue language.

  • BruceJ

    Cholhula…bleah.

    The only REAL table salsa is Poblano Salsa Ranchera which is a home town staple here in Tucson.

    When I lived in suburban New York, back in the 80’s, I startled everyone in the store with my shrieks of delight when I found someon the shelf in a now-long-gone hispanic speciaty foods store on 14th street.

    Glory be, they had *real* tortillas, as well.

    (this was in the bad old days where I once found on a grocery shelf a can, yes A CAN of Old El Paso corn tortilla. Smack my gob!)

    This recipe sounds wonderful, save for the odd addition of Old Bay…weird.

    • bspencer

      I’ll have to try Polblano. And actually I would encourage people to swap out the main sauce and see what they like.

      Most wing sauces have so little depth of flavor, I took a chance on adding some and really liked what it added. It’s just there in the background, doesn’t make it weird at all.

  • Johnny Sack

    Do you bread the wings? It’s probably not a big deal but I was gonna make boneless so I was thinking Panko or ritz

    • bspencer

      I think you almost can’t go wrong with panko. I’ve never made boneless wings, but I’d like to try some day.

    • Halloween Jack

      Personally, I’m of the opinion that breading sauced wings is an abomination; if you want to make fried chicken, then make fried chicken.

  • elm

    Everything is better with sriracha. Well, maybe not ice cream. But, otherwise, everything!

    • bspencer

      I used to say that about pesto.

  • TBP

    Looks great but one very minor suggestion: I hate measurements that include words like “heaping” or “scant.” it’s not that hard to figure out the actual amount and specify it.

    Similarly I dislike the phrase “to taste,” without at least a baseline quantity specified.

    Not so important perhaps in a recipe like that that everyone is going to fiddle around with anyway, but still…

    • bspencer

      Actually, it can be tricky for me because I cook a lot by *feel*. I try to specify when I can. For future recipes I’ll try to come up with a specific amount.

      • TBP

        Thanks. “Hate” was actually probably too strong a word, but it is a pet peeve of mine.

  • I wonder if putting the wings on a rack on top of a baking sheet would work in the oven.

    That way the fat could drain out of the wings and be collected on the baking sheet. The wings would stay dry and presumably crispy.

    • Mo

      For doing wings in the oven – a restaurant supply house half sheet pan, foil on the bottom, with one of the grid style cooling racks made to fit into the pan works best.

      This set up is also great for things you are putting sauce onto, because whatever you are saucing doesn’t sit in the sauce. You can also reclaiming the sauce that drips of by pouring it off the foil and back into the bowl.

    • I line a baking sheet with foil and then take another, longer sheet of foil, crinkle it up lightly and then spread it out on top. The nooks and crannies of the crinkled foil allow the fat to drain away from the wings so that they roast and crisp properly.

  • joel hanes

    We’ve been using Frank’s too, and we like to reduce it, covered, on low heat for an hour or so — it clings better. Do _not_ put your face above the pan to smell it.
    I’m looking forward to trying it with Sambal Oelek.

    We serve home-made blue cheese salad dressing with wings, with chunks of Iowa Maytag or Wisconin Carr Valley Glacier blue — because if you’re going to dine on animal fats, you might as well do it right.

    Best wings I ever had were at the late, much-lamented St. James Infirmary on Moffet in Sunnyvale CA, served in a bucket of 50. I’m told that I can still get them at the sister restaurant, Madison Bear Garden in Chico — the 300 mile drive seems almost worth it.

    The WingStop and Buffalo Wild Wings chains offer a spectrum of hot wings, but IMHO they’re all mediocre at best.

    • bspencer

      I like the way you think, joel. Yum.

  • commie atheist

    Your husband is a right-wing fanatic? That must make for interesting conversation around the dinner…

    Oh, wait.

    Never mind.

  • Anonymous

    I always keep a 28 oz. bottle of Sriracha in the house. Stuff goes great on anything.

  • YooHooligan

    I do love Frank’s and sriracha, but if you can score Cajun Chef hot sauce, that + a bit of worcestershrshshshs^H YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS + butter et al. make for ten kinds of awesome. I used to stir that up for all manner of chicken, including late-night “I’m drunk and I have Trader Joe’s chicken strips in my freezer” incidents.

    I have since discovered masu sake + sushi, which should explain typos.

    • bspencer

      worcestershrshshshs^H YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS

      +1

      We all know what it is and none of us can spell or pronounce it.

      • Hogan

        I think it’s “Whatsis here sauce?”

      • Halloween Jack

        “Wooster-shire.” Just imagine Hugh Laurie as a hobbit.

    • Walt

      My wife has outsourced pronouncing “Worcestershire sauce” to me. Whenever she mentions it when discussing food or recipes, she says “Worces…” and then just points to me.

  • tybee

    dry the wings, sprinkle with a bit of salt, a bit of pepper, a modicum of granulated garlic. spray with cooking spray.

    grill them at a medium temp. it comes out with a nice and crispy skin.

    mix sriracha with honey (1 to 3 ratio to start with). drizzle over wings the last five minutes of grilling.

    keeps the btu’s out of the house and avoids the frying oils.

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