What could be more American than hot dogs, apple pie and — hold on to your Uncle Sam hat — chicken wings?
Wings were once the most unappreciated part of the bird, usually destined for the soup pot or the garbage can. But today these poultry parts are in high demand at restaurants, bars and home kitchens.
Cooked and tossed in a sauce, either hot and spicy or sweet and tangy, chicken wings are the perfect appetizer.
The attraction is “the flavor to meat ratio” says Cat Bean, one of the 450 people who attended the recent “WingFest” cook-off at Salt Lake City’s Batter Up Sports Bar.
For Darren Lum, wings appeal to his masculine side. “It’s greasy, man food,” he said. “When you have a party, you have to have wings.”
And, of course, girls like them, too. “They’re a universal food everyone likes,” says Laura Fahlsing.
She speaks the truth. According to the National Chicken Council, Americans will consume more than 25 billion chicken wing parts in 2012.
Baked or fried • No one dispute America’s love for wings, which have many different labels, including Buffalo wings or hot wings.
But there is serious debate about the best way to prepare these little bites. Some say baked; others insist on fried.
“Fried is the tradition, the American way to do it,” says Aaron Stanley, manager at the Wing Coop in Holladay. “The crispy skin is the advantage of fried.”
That was how the first batch of wings were made at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, which is credited with creating the dish. Legend has it that in October 1964 owner Teressa Bellissimo, in a panic to find a late-night snack for her son’s friends, took the chicken wings she had originally planned to use for a soup and threw them in the deep fryer. She tossed them in hot sauce, served them with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing, and officially kicked off the Buffalo chicken wing sensation.
However, tastes have changed since then, explains Will Owens, co-owner of the Utah-based Wing Nutz franchise, which won the “best wings” title during the blind taste test at the Batter Up bar on June 16. “I love wings,” he said, “but all the ones I found in Utah were greasy and sloppy.”
So he and partner Will Miller started experimenting, eventually coming up with a three-step cooking process that steams, bakes and then crisps the wings, making them lower in calories than their deep-fried competitors.
The concept seems to resonate with Utahns. Since launching in 2008, WingNutz has opened 15 stores, including its newest location in Murray, which opened last week.
WingNuts has plenty of competitors. The Buffalo Wild Wings chain recently opened its first Utah store in Lehi and is planning several more.
And other restaurants — from pizza joints to sandwich shops — are adding wings to the menu. According to MenuMonitor, an online menu-tracking resource, 36 percent of the Top 500 restaurant chains offer wings. Many feed the frenzy by holding wing-eating contests and Wing Wednesday or other deals.
At home • Making chicken wings can be a dilemma for home cooks who don’t like to grease up the kitchen by deep frying but can’t usually get that crispy skin from baking them in a regular oven.
A good alternative is the grill, says Jamie Purviance, author of Weber’s Way to Grill and Smoke cookbooks. With grilling, the meat remains tender and juicy and the skin gets crisp. The trick, he said, is to use indirect heat “which breaks down some of the chewy characteristics of the meat.”
Wings have three joints or parts: the drummette, which looks like a miniature chicken leg; the two-boned middle section, called the flat; and a third end joint called the flapper. If it hasn’t already been done by the butcher, you will need to separate the drummette from the flat, as well as cut off and discard the flapper before cooking.
As the demand for chicken wings has increased, so has the price. Prices usually are at their highest in the winter — right around Superbowl Sunday and college basketball’s March Madness season. At their peak, they can cost as much as $1.99 pound.
But in the summer, savvy shoppers can usually find them for half that price.
When it comes to putting on a sauce, chicken wings offer an open canvas for experimentation. Be traditional and coat with Buffalo or barbecue sauce, or take a cue from restaurants and create something original, such as tequila-lime or raspberry chipotle.
Remember to brush the glaze on when the wings are still warm, says Chef Susan Feniger, an original Food Network star, in her new cookbook, Street Food. “When the wings are hot, they absorb the sweet and earthy flavor of the glaze more than if they are at room temperature.”
Sweet and sticky honey hot wings
1 cup molasses-based barbecue sauce
1 cup honey
1 (12-ounce) bottle Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
2 gallon-size heavy-duty zip-close plastic bags
4 pounds chicken wings and/or drummettes
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Fine-grain sea salt
In a medium bowl mix together the barbecue sauce and honey. Refrigerate until needed.
Divide the bottle of Frank’s hot sauce evenly between the 2 plastic bags. Add half of the chicken to each bag, then seal the bag and turn to coat evenly. Refrigerate to marinate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.
When ready to cook, heat one side of the grill to medium, the other to low. Remove the barbecue-honey sauce from the refrigerator to warm to room temperature.
Open each bag just at the corner and tip it over the sink to drain the marinade. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt to each bag, then reseal the bags and shake gently to coat. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to the cooler side of the grill.
Cover the grill and cook 40 minutes, or until starting to brown. Remove chicken from the grill and place in a large bowl. Pour the barbecue-honey sauce over the wings. Use tongs to toss and coat well.
Place wings back on the grill for another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Note • These wings also can be cooked on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a metal rack. Roast them for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, then toss them with the barbecue-honey sauce and roast for another 20 to 25 minutes.
Servings • 6
Source: The Associated Press
Buffalo-style chicken wings with
blue cheese dressing
24 (about 4 pounds) chicken wings
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable oil
4 teaspoons butter
2 to 5 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Celery sticks, for garnish
Blue cheese dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Make the dressing first. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, onion, garlic, parsley, sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, blue cheese, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
For the wings, cut off the tips of each chicken wing and discard. Cut the wing in half to make two pieces. Wash chicken wings and dry completely. They need to be dry to fry crisp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
In a deep fryer or large pot, add oil and heat to 400 degree or until the oil starts to pop and sizzle. (The oil should cover the wings and still maintain the same temperature. If using and electric frying pan set the temperature to 425 degrees).
Add half the wings to the pan and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until gold and crisp, stirring occasionally. When done, remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Do not pile the wing in a bowl. The fat will congeal before it runs off.
Repeat process with remaining wings
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add hot sauce and vinegar; stir well and remove from heat immediately. Add drained chicken wings and toss well. Using tongs, take chicken wings out of sauce let excess sauce drain off.
Place on a got grill or in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes to bake on the sauce.
Serve with Blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.
Servings • Makes 4 to 6
Source • I’ll Have What They’re Having: Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda Stradley
Chinese chicken wings
3/4 cup orange juice
1 (5-ounce) bottle soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 or 2 dashes of dried ginger
3 to 5 pounds chicken wings
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
Dash of Sriracha hot chili sauce
Mix orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Place wings in a resealable plastic bag and add marinade. Seal and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, turning the bag a couple times.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Drain chicken wings, reserving marinade. Place chicken wings on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, basting with reserved marinade.
For dipping sauce, combine 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce with a dash or two of Sriracha hot chili sauce.
Servings • 6
Source • Salt to Honey: Recipes for Great Gatherings, by Junior League of Salt Lake City