Thursday, February 18, 2010

Man B Que Hot Wings

Gluttony never looked so tender and juicy

Ah, Buffalo wings - beer makes you more delicious, and you make beer more refreshing. It's a relationship so heartwarming that Jack and Diane seem like Hitler and Eva Braun by comparison.

Prior to all the hipsters proclaiming love for tripe, kidneys, and tongue, Buffalo wings were the original culinary "one man's trash ..." story. As you all probably know, the wings were invented at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, as a way to get some use from a part of the chicken that was then thought of as garbage. A little hot sauce and blue cheese later, they've become so popular as to substantially screw with the price of chicken itself.

If you're going to do this, do it right. Get the jointed wings and chop those bad boys down to that familiar, recognizable shape for delicious preparation. Boneless wings are for chattering sorority girls and Guy Fieri ... I repeat myself. You want that satisfying pile of bones and gristle, paying tribute to your power as a barbaric man (or, if you prefer, Amazonian lady). If you work in retail or a cubicle, it's probably as bad-ass as you're going to feel the entire week.

It should be said right off the bat that we're calling these "Hot Wings" and not "Buffalo Wings." They are not prepared in the traditional Buffalo style (i.e., not fried to hell, more than 2 ingredients in the sauce), and people from that region get mighty uppity if you deviate. This might not be Buffalo, but you can enjoy a crispy skin with a much more tender and juicy inner wing. Who ever said Buffalo was perfect, anyway? Certainly not anyone who watched Super Bowls XXV-XXVIII.

The Setup

Don't forget, you also need a big plastic cup, featuring your alma mater, filled with half cheap whiskey and half Coke.

You'll need the following equipment:

- Good tongs (not the tiny ones that your mom bought you when you moved into your own place that make your hands cramp and look like Stephen Hawking's).

- Nonstick saute pan

- Large mixing bowl (for tossing wings in sauce)

- Rimmed baking pan lined with foil


1 dozen chicken wings (not wing pieces, actual chicken wings)
Four for dusting, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp butter

8 tbsp hot sauce (in Buffalo, they use Frank's Red Hot. Just saying.)
8 tbsp butter (that'd be one stick. What, you expected health food?)
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
1/4 tsp salt


1. Cut through the wings at each joint. Set wing tips aside for stock, or throw away. Or do whatever you want. They're yours. Just don't try to make them into hot wings. That'd be gross.

2. Place all sauce ingredients (that second grouping of things above) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil briefly, then simmer over low, stirring to prevent sticking.

If you want the traditional sauce recipe, than ignore everything but the butter and hot sauce.

3. Dust chicken wings in seasoned flour. Shake off excess. Preheat oven to 375.

4. Heat 2 tbsp each of the butter and oil over med/med-hi, depending on your oven range. Using both butter and oil will keep the butter from burning in the pan.

Cast iron works too. But if you put that in the dishwasher when you're done, I'll come over and punch you in the throat.

5. Brown wings in skillet for 3-4 min, until nice and golden. Flip then and repeat. Remove to baking pan.

If you want, you can brush your wings with sauce at any time during the following steps. It's going to lead to much less crispy skin, but they'll be both juicy and saucier than a 1920s burlesque performer. Your call.

6. Bake in the oven at 375 for 30-35 min, depending on the size of the wings.

The chicken juice and sauce leaking off of the sides of the pan, on to my oven floor, explains why I recommend a rimmed baking ban. Do as I say, not as I capture on film.

7. Turn oven up to 400, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

8. Pour finished wing sauce into bowl. Remove pan from oven. Throw the wings into the sauce a half-dozen at a time, and toss in the bowl.

9. Crack open a cold beer, mutter "hell yes" to no one in particular, and throw on the DVD of Roadhouse. Enjoy yourself.

With an entire bowl of extra sauce - dip the celery in it, brush your teeth with it, or just drink it alone in the dark while staving off tears. Hooray for dignity!

Monday, February 15, 2010


Sausage Queen, 1958. Angioplasty Queen, 1965.

Oh, the horror of the sausagefest. It's a constant fear of the party and bar goer. This sausage fest is a little different. Ground meat spiced with flavors that are out of this world. Yes I am referring to packaged meat. What could be better than a good old fashioned fresh sausage, hot dog, bologna, summer, or any other variety of encased meat known to man? Well, a little alone time with your woman, I suppose.

But as far as what goes on the table, I think it’s a very short list. What other single food item can cross all meal boundaries? It's breakfast, it's lunch, it's a snack wherever, or an elegant dinner (possibly on a bun). Everyone's familiar with breakfast sausage as a staple, but what other types of sausage are out there? Cajun is one category. These sausages are a mix and adaptation of many European cultures; boudin and andouille are two of the most widely-known. Another option would be German sausage - bratwurst or frankfurters, among others. Other European nations also have great sausage; Poland has Kielbasa, and Spain has chorizo.

Then we've got Italian sausage. Sausage was originally a method of preparing tougher or much less desirable cuts of meat and packaging them with enough spices and seasoning to choke a goat. Nowadays, the quality of meat is much better, but you still never know. Buying sausage is in my mind one of those things that can be dicey, you never know what some folks may think is acceptable for use in sausage. Therefore I suggest making your own. Grinding your own meat can be a time consuming and EXTREMELY messy, the first time I did it without supervision I managed to splatter pork blood on the ceiling and walls of my mother’s kitchen - BIG, BIG mistake (though even she thought it was exceptional sausage when it was all cleaned up).

I grew up watching the great men in my life make everything they ate. No matter what it was, growing a garden, hunting or fishing for meat, they made some of the best food ever. Sausage was a tradition. We made it all breakfast sausage mostly but we dabbled in other varieties. This is one of our favorites.

Italian Cheese & Red Wine Sausage

4 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder
2 tbsp coarse-ground fennel seed
2 bay leaves, crushed
1/4 c chopped parsley
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 c grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
3/4 c dry red wine
4 yards sausage casing

Grind the meat using the coarse blade. Mix all ingredients together and allow the mixture to sit for 1 hour before stuffing into casings.