By Richard Moorey
WINGS have become somewhat of a culinary icon and what was once primarily very inexpensive and often just used for stocks and soups can now almost be considered a delicacy. Pub goers, restaurant customers and aficionados buy and eat billions of wings each year and it’s estimated almost 1.5 billion wings of those are eaten on Superbowl Sunday alone every year in North America. So it’s pretty easy to say we love our wings.
There are hundreds of thousands of wing recipes just floating around in cyberspace and many of them are good, some great and even fewer can take your taste buds from rockstar to supernova in a couple of bites but where do you find the perfect chicken wing?
I haven’t managed to answer that question yet although a person can have a pretty delicious time trying find the answer.
There is a great debate on what makes a great wing. We know seasonings, marinades and sauces play a huge role in a wings yummy factor but at the end of the day size, quality and cooking techniques are the big players on the field of tastitude.
Big wings are juicy with the big payoff of getting that big bite satisfaction but you don’t want them too big. Wings are rated on a sizing scale that uses average number of wings per pound. Too big and they’re not really wings anymore but too small and they just become pitiful and far too easy to overcook. My personal favourites are 8/10 per pound but 10/12 per pound are a great choice too.
When you are talking quality, free range fresh wings are always going to be the most delicious but try finding those.
Buying from out of country you’re able to buy in bulk for a great price but will always end up with a frozen product. My advice is to by fresh from a trusted butcher or grocer. Buy fresh and try to buy from as close to home as possible.
Cooking techniques can vary quite a lot too. Some people steam and bake, some people boil and broil, you can bake or broil exclusively and of course there are my two favourite methods frying and grilling. Yah I’m a little partial but the flavours and textures that grilling and frying produce are for me the pinnacle of wing cooking techniques.
Frying produces that ultra-crispy skin and juicy interior while grilling leaves a little char and crispness but adds that amazing fire licked and smoky flavours.
If you remember to buy the right wings at the right size as fresh as you can and treat them simply and cook them with your favourite technique you’ll end up with a smashmouth batch of wings. The greatest thing about cooking is you never know when you might just might get it perfect. Here is one of my favorite wing recipes to get you started on your road to finding the perfect wing.
House’s Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken Wings
12 to 15 chicken wings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup buttermilk
In a shallow baking dish, combine the flour, Parmesan, paprika, mustard and salt and pepper and stir until well blended.
Pour the milk in a shallow bowl.
Working with 1 wing at a time, dip the chicken in the milk, then dredge it in the flour mixture, and then tap off any excess flour.
In a deep-fryer heat the oil until it registers 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Fry the chicken wings in small batches, being careful not to crowd the basket nudging the wings so they don’t stick. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until fully cooked. Using tongs, transfer the wings to paper towels to drain and season immediately with a little salt and pepper.
Enjoy plain or toss in your favourite sauces.
Richard Moorey (aka Chef House) can be reached with email to email@example.com, through his website at www.evot.ca, or on his Facebook group Evolution of Tastitude. You can follow him on Twitter @House_74.