Saturday, October 19, 2013

Wings. Just wings, please.

It's hard to believe but I never had chicken wings until I was well into my thirties. Hard to believe because I was raised by an Alabama-born mother who made us fried chicken probably every two or three weeks.  Also, I believe that when I was growing up wings/hot wings weren't as sought after as they are today.

But now in my older and wiser years, one of the best comfort foods for me is chicken wings. They could be be fried, baked, broiled or barbecued, anything but pre-made frozen from the supermarket. And they must have the bone in. Knawing away on each bone is part of the comfort, being the instinctual carnivore that I am. 

I also like them with the skin on and dry - instead of drippy and smeary. Drippy and smeary are what you get more than not if you order them someplace.

Over the years I've met people from different places who brag on their local wings. "Oh, Memphis has the best wings," or "You haven't had good wings if you haven't had them in Denver," or "Go to Birmingham for the best wings," and on and on. I find that all that talk irrelevant.

Then I've known chicken wing gastronomes who spend time arguing whether it's white meat or dark meat. Aye-yai-yai.

There are also the Hooters wings devotees, but I won't go into that. 

Actually I will.

One time I had a co-worker (my on-air partner on a morning radio show) who asked me to go down to the Hooters near the radio station to get us some wings. She said she would pay for mine if I went because she said she refuses to "go in there."

They were okay wings, but I figured one had to eat them right there inside Hooters served by a Hooters waitress to fully appreciate the dining experience.

Anyway, this last Thursday I decided it was time for another batch and fetched out from the freezer a long tray of raw chicken wings I bought at Smith's a couple of months ago.

The worst part of making chicken wings at home is cutting them up and removing the tips. Last time I left the tips on and found I had to use an extra baking sheet because they wouldn't all fit on one. It's an icky job, but I've learned to just soldier through and whack away.

After that gets done, it's all downhill. I get the little slimy fragments all lined up on our baking pan with the grill thing on top and bake them plain for fifteen minutes on each side, and while that's going on I mix up a third cup of Frank's Hot Sauce with a third cup of melted butter. But the more Frank's the better, I've learned.

Then I swab 'em down and bake for fifteen minutes, take them out, turn them over, and swab down that side and bake for another fifteen minutes. This turning and swabbing goes on over and over again until I run out of sauce.

After all that backing and swabbing, maybe an hour and a quarter, they end up nice and dry and zesty.

Trouble with making wings is, however, is that they run out too fast. You'd think 28 wings would last more than a couple of days worth of snacks. But no, between my wife and I they were gone in less than 24 hours.


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