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Dinner in 35 Minutes

Wednesday, February 2, 2005; Page F03

Buffalo Wings

Makes about 30 wings

There's a reason chicken wings are traditionally made in bar kitchens rather than at home. They're labor-intensive and can create a mess. But for anyone so inclined, here's a foolproof recipe with three different techniques for Super Bowl week or the big game night itself.

INGREDIENT

A TALE OF TWO WINGS

Wings have two parts -- a skinny wing made up of two bones with a paltry amount of chicken and a meaty miniature drumstick dubbed a drumette -- and are commonly disjointed and split before being packaged. It's not difficult to figure out which part discriminating wing connoisseurs prefer.

Several years ago, some retailers offered packages of fresh chicken drumettes instead of bags of mixed wings and drumettes. Those days came to an abrupt halt when stores were left with a surfeit of wing-only packages.

"What was the industry going to do with the other part?" explained Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale, referring to the packages that didn't move off the shelves.

Stores may have returned to mixed-portion packages, though it's not impossible to get a package of only drumettes. At some stores, wings are split before being packaged. "Sometimes when you have a good relationship with the butcher, they'll do you a favor," said Theo Weening, mid-Atlantic meat coordinator for Whole Foods Market. His advice to drumette fans: "Get to know your butcher."

Fan Food

Among the fare expected to be consumed by the 79,000-plus fans at this year's Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla.'s Alltel Stadium:

17,600 gallons of soda

8,300 gallons of bottled water

16,900 hot dogs

1.3 tons of peanuts

4,000 hamburgers

8,000 trays of spicy cheese

nachos

Consumed by the fans in the 69,500 seatsduring last year's Super Bowl XXXVIII at Houston's Reliant Stadium:

9,000 gallons of soda

11,000 giant pretzels

15,000 hot dogs

261 gallons of chili

100 pounds each of guacamole, sour cream and refried beans

200 pounds of pico de gallo

3,000 barbecue sandwiches

4,000 baked potatoes

6,400 Super Bowl cookies

4,000 hamburgers

SOURCES: Centerplate Concessions, Aramark Concessions, American Institute of Food Distributors

Frying makes for crisp skin and moist meat but requires standing by the stove and working in small batches. Roasting wings in the oven requires less work but results in noticeably less crispness. Broiling makes for an even quicker start-to-finish, though it makes a mess of the oven.

Adapted from "Wing It! Delectable Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Bar Snack," by Christopher B. O'Hara (Clarkson Potter, 2004):

For the sauce:

1 cup vegetable oil, such as canola, or melted butter

3/4 to 1 cup hot red pepper sauce

Honey to taste (optional)

For the wings:

About 4 pounds chicken wings, separated into wings and drumettes (see INGREDIENT, below)

Salt

Cayenne pepper (optional)

About 1 cup flour

Peanut or canola oil (optional; if using frying method)

Blue Cheese Dressing (optional; recipe follows)

In a bowl, combine the oil or butter and hot sauce. Taste and adjust the ingredients accordingly. Set aside.

Season the wings with salt and, if desired, cayenne pepper. Place the flour in a large bowl and coat the wings lightly with it, shaking to remove any excess.

To pan-fry: In a large, deep pot or wok over medium heat, heat about 2 inches of peanut oil to 375 degrees (hot but not smoking). Add several wings to the oil, being careful not to crowd them. Cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, browned and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the wings and the temperature of the oil. Repeat with the remaining wings.

To roast: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and oil it.

Place the wings in a single layer on the sheets and roast, turning once, until crisp, browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes. To crisp the skin, either continue to roast the wings for a total of 45 minutes or broil the wings for 2 to 3 minutes at the end of roasting.

To broil: Adjust the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and oil it.

Place the wings in a single layer on the sheets and broil, turning once or twice, until crisped, browned and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total.

To serve the wings, toss them in the hot sauce mixture. Serve immediately, with dressing on the side if desired.

For the Blue Cheese Dressing: In a bowl using a fork, combine 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 4 to 6 ounces crumbled blue cheese and if desired, 1 to 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar.

Recipe tested by Renee Schettler; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com.

Ingredients too variable for meaningful analysis

-- Renee Schettler


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