Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wings & Things


We are a wings family.  Now that football season is upon us, it's the perfect time to get out the Fry Daddy and fry up some wings!  They are the perfect football food.  Pair them with some cool Ranch dressing and a cold beer, and the party is in full swing!  My husband is a HUGE Cowboys fan.  Yep.  He's the guy who wears the jersey and has a Cowboys beer koozie and cheers really loudly during the game.  I really enjoy watching that man during a game.

We actually got to go to the Superbowl in 2011 in Dallas between the Packers and the Steelers.  This is actually kind of a funny story.  We decided to root for the Packers (don't hate).  We got shirts and bundled up and headed there.  Our friend dropped us off since the traffic is a nightmare.  We started about five or six blocks north of the stadium and worked our way down.  There was such a huge party going on all around. There were bars packed full of people.  The parking lots all the way down the road had tailgaiters in them.  We started at a bar called Louie Louie's which is a dueling piano bar.  Have you ever been to one of those?  It was super fun.  The place was empty since they didn't have a big screen TV, so we had the duelers to ourselves.  You walk up and hand the piano player some money and tell them what song you want and they play it, often changing the words.

So we meandered down the streets checking out the bars and the parties, and then we headed to the stadium.  We actually only had party pass tickets, which meant we got to watch on a big screen outside.  So we headed to our checkpoint with our backpack complete with an umbrella and other necessities.  That's when things started going awry.  You aren't aloud to carry any bags into the stadium or even to the party pass area. So we stuffed our coat pockets with as much as we could and ditched the bag and the umbrella.  No big deal.  We got to our area a little late, and all of the outside tables were full.  All of the gas heater lamps had people crowded around them.  It had turned colder, but we dressed appropriately so we'd be okay, right?  Then we headed to the beer lines. Long lines.  Very long lines.  They had run out of beer (already?), so we had to wait for someone to bring more.  And what did they have to drink?  Only Miller Lite.  $9 cans of Miller Lite.  Now, you could buy two at a time, but only Miller Lite.  I don't even really like beer, and my husband likes Mexican imported beer.  But we were going to make the best of the situation and drink those beers.

So we finally got back to our area with our two beers in hand after missing the start of the game.  I couldn't really see over the tall people around me, but I could hear the game.  Then it started raining.  Not a downpour, but enough to chill us even more.  After sticking it out in the rain, with the crowd, no visibility of the game, and bad beer (don't hate), we decided to leave.  We walked the several blocks back up to where we were dropped off and went to our friends' house.  It was warm there. They had a big screen TV. They had snacks.  And they had good beer. Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm glad to say that I got to go.  It's a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  But, if we decide to go again, I think we'll get seats inside the stadium where there's good beer and snacks and warmth.

So back to the wings.  These are bone-out wings complete with a homemade Buffalo sauce.  A little effort, but so worth it!

BUFFALO WINGS
FOR THE SAUCE:
15 fresh Fresno peppers (or other red pepper)
1 Habanero pepper
One 1-ounce package of Chile de Arbol
One 1.5 ounce package Ancho chiles
8 dried New Mexico chiles
1 whole bulb garlic, peeled
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T chili powder
1 1/2 T salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
White vinegar (about 2-3 cups)
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 C tomato sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 T lemon juice

FOR THE CHICKEN:
2 lbs boneless chicken, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
Flour
Buttermilk
Cajun seasoning (like Emeril's)
Peanut oil
Ranch dressing

Put the chicken in a casserole pan and cover with buttermilk.  Add in the Cajun seasoning and stir.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove the stems from all of the chiles.  Because there are so many chiles, you will want to wear gloves, especially with the Habanero.  Throw all of the chiles, seeds and all, into a blender.  Add in the peeled garlic cloves.  Pour enough vinegar in the blender to cover the peppers.  Blend until mostly smooth.  Pour this mixture into a large pot.  Add in the cayenne, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Continue simmering for about 20 to 30 minutes or until reduced and thickened.  You may want to keep the exhaust fan on because vinegar cooking can be unpleasant to smell.

When the sauce is thickened, remove from heat and strain the sauce, discarding the seeds and skins that are left behind.  If the sauce is too thick, you can add in a little more vinegar at this point.  Melt the butter in the same pot and cook the onion until tender.  Add in the strained sauce, the tomato sauce, brown sugar and lemon.  Whisk and stir and cook until the desired consistency.  You can blend it again at this point if you don't want the chunks of onion in the sauce.  I used an immersion blender to do this.  Remove from heat.

Preheat your oil in a deep fryer or tall pot to 350 degrees.  Preheat the oven to 200 as a holding station for the chicken.  To set up a dredging station, put about 3 C flour in a large bowl and sprinkle in more Cajun seasoning and mix.  Dredge the chicken into the flour, back into the buttermilk, and back into the flour.  Fry in batches until golden brown. Keep the fried pieces warm in the oven on a sheet pan until they are all fried.  Put the sauce into a large bowl and then add the chicken.  Shake to coat.  Serve with Ranch dressing.

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