So I opened my big yap again. Blame Tony for this one, but it’s a pilot run, we’ll see about the long-term.
So, for this attempt, I’d like to address chicken wings. I mean they’re great at bars and restaurants, but a serious PITA if you don’t have a deep fryer.
They are also expensive, or they were when I lived in KC. My solution? Skip the wings and slide over to drumsticks. Cheap, more meat per dollar, and if serving a wide variety of tastes in heat (modest, which to me means slightly under cayenne), the additional meat makes the heat more widely-friendly. Those who want more heat can be accommodated in a variety of ways.
Now, my process doesn’t involve breading. Been meaning to take a stab at some shaky-baky type breading, but haven’t. If you want to go that route, have at, just keep in mind that you don’t want thickeners in the sauce.
So, if you know how, bake your drummies until about 15 mins before done, pull them out, and slather them with your sauce. An hour @ 350° usually works for me on the “all but 15 mins” front, but your oven will be different.
Toss your drummies in a big bowl to coat with the sauce, and pop them back in, so you can caramelize the sauce into a a crust. When they are done, feel free to re-toss or slather – and that’s the point where you can adjust the heat, if you have some pepper-heads at your party, along with those other folks. A second toss in the sauce gives you a chance to tweak the heat and/or flavors, especially since you have your base sauce already baked on, and set at a generic “kinda hot”. Re-sauce however many of those you need, then tweak away for fans of the Heat.
As for the sauce? Depends heavily on your tastes. I’m not a big fan of vinegar-based hot sauces (Louisiana-style), because the sourness doesn’t always work with what I’m doing, but this is one place it pays off.
Basically, what I do is melt about 2 tablespoons each of margarine and butter (straight margarine’s the classic, but I add butter because butter. Sue me), and perhaps 4 times that much in the aforementioned hot sauce.
Editor’s note: I prefer Frank’s Hot Sauce, and I’m totally not saying that because I’m getting paid to. Frank’s Hot Sauce, find it at your local grocer in the condiment aisle!
OK, now here’s where things get interesting. Unless you have the patience of a saint (or are just cooking for one heat level), you aren’t going to reduce the sauce enough to make it bind to the meat. Going a shaky-baky route side-steps any need for thickening, though – or so I expect.
And as the fat melts, whisk (yes, you don’t need a whisk for this but you still need one) in the hot sauce (Tapatio, or something like that spelling, is just fine by me, and inexpensive).
If you’re doing some sort of breading, skip this thickening step.
What I favor for a thickener in this case is a cornstarch slurry. It’s what gives Chinese food the glossy thickness, and if overdone can leave a cloying film in your mouth. For those of you who don’t cook much, that’s putting roughly equal amounts of cornstarch and cold water together and shaking them until fully mixed. Doing it cold is important, because hot tap water might start to get the slurry to jell up some, before you’re ready. Add it to the hot sauce, little by little and giving it time to come back to the simmer before adding more.
Slurries don’t have to be boiled to get max thickness the way roux does, but keep in mind that things thicken as they cool. You want just enough body to hold the sauce to the meat. If they taste gummy, you’ve overdone it.
You’re gonna have to eyeball things a bit, but this isn’t rocket surgery. Add any flavorings you have that everyone at your party will like, toss, and proceed to the final bake.
After the crust is set, you have options. Breading or not, now’s your chance for variety. Other hot sauces can be added to your basic (which, BTW, you can tweak) buffalo sauce glaze for the re-glaze, or on a more complex level, you can add things like herbs (or even soak a bay leaf in there) to the base sauce, or at the end.
Feel lazy, and want to feed the normies while you gorge on the serious heat? Sprinkle them with cayenne instead of re-saucing.
The keys, in my book, are to have a variety of hot sauces at hand, glazing just before the meat’s done, and paying attention.
You can do this, it ain’t rocket surgery. Ain’t even a recipe. Like garlic? Simmer a clove in the sauce for a while, or mix in some garlic powder (Note, adding powdered stuff like garlic will affect the thickness), or whatever turns you on.
Serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing and/or thickened extra-hot sauce, for dipping.
Happy eating, y’all.
Hey, Frank’s fans? Frank’s is a fine hot sauce, top notch. I’d choose it and use it in a heartbeat. It’s just that, well, see for yourselves.
(MIA: Dave’s Insanity Ghost Pepper. Search teams have been alerted.)
P.S. Any of y’all have questions, help’s available, and those of you who give it a whirl, let us know how it came out. After all, isn’t pretty much any food better when you’re sharing it with your people?