Wings—an appetizing holiday sports snack

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Photo courtesy of goodiesfirst via flickr through Creative Commons

If you watch sports and eat meat, chances are high you’ve feasted upon hot wings before. They may well be the perfect food to enjoy while watching your favorite team play. Wings are easy to eat, filling and tasty if done right.
My family spends many holiday hours with sports on the television, football for Thanksgiving and basketball on Christmas. On those days, nothing is better than a plate of chicken wings, dipping sauce and a little celery to make you feel like you’re trying to be healthy. This recipe is for bourbon barbecue buffalo wings with a blue cheese yogurt dip. Enjoy.

WINGS
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup Maker’s Mark bourbon, plus the rest of bottle for drinking
1/2 cup firm packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 cup Sriracha hot sauce, less if you are not a fan of spicy food
1 cup barbecue sauce, I recommend Bone Suckin’ Sauce
1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
3 pounds chicken wings, split at the joint, wing tips removed
Kosher salt
As much celery as you want

Dip
1 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (Rogue River Creamery is amazing)
2 tablespoons finely grated red onion
2 tablespoons fine chopped cilantro
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

The secret to great wings is simple. Butter. Mix it in the sauce not only for delicious flavor, but to help the stuff stick to the chicken. Start by melting the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic, then cook at medium heat until they are soft and release their flavor. Whisk in the bourbon, brown sugar and honey. Heat until all ingredients are incorporated and hot, about 3–5 minutes.

Add the ancho chile powder, Sriracha, barbecue sauce and Frank’s. Heat sauce and stir until it simmers, then turn down the heat so you can get the wings ready.

Season the chicken with salt. Heat oil to medium-high and wait until it is hot before dropping in the chicken. Fry wings in batches until they are golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined platter. Chicken wings can also be baked in the oven if you’re looking to avoid all that greasy oil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cook for 45–50 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.

In a large mixing bowl, add cooked wings and sauce. Toss the chicken wings until they are thoroughly coated. Any leftover cilantro from the sauce makes a great garnish. Serve with blue cheese dip, celery sticks and leftover bourbon.

To make the dip, stir together the yogurt, blue cheese, red onion, cilantro, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

If there’s any drawback to buffalo wings, it’s that they’re always messy to eat. If you’re lucky, the sauce only covers your hands and mouth. Most people end up with an orange, greasy spot somewhere on their clothing. Whether host or cook, come prepared to shove hot wings down everyone’s mouth. Bring an extra bowl for the bones. Have lots—and I mean lots—of napkins or paper towels on hand. If you really want to go above and beyond, provide moist towelettes or packs of Wet-Naps for everyone to cleanse their fingers after ingestion.

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