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Hot Wings

February 5, 2012

Today has to be the Black Friday of pizza and wing deliveries. In years past I went through the ritual of actually reserving a delivery slot well in advance of Super Bowl Sunday so that I could be sure to have the staples required for a proper observance of this national holiday.

Pizza is great. Back out west Steve K. would traditionally bring a large sausage stuffed Chicago style pizza from the only place in town that made it worth a damn.

But for me, wings are a critical part of the Super Bowl. The only problem is that getting wings delivered is destined to fail. Fried foods are awful for you. Positively awful. But they are worth every last bit of heart disease and cancer when you get them right from the fryer, crisp and sizzling and juicy.

Last night, I was reminded of just how bad wings can be.

Actually in this case, I blame the waiter. Mrs. Fussy and I had been sitting on a gift card to Ruby Tuesday for far too long. Combined with the fact that Mrs. Fussy needed new pants, we went off to the mall for a Saturday night full of clothes shopping and chain restaurant eating.

The last time I went to Ruby Tuesday was as their guest for a cocktail sampling. This time, I actually got to take a long leisurely stroll through their menu. Here is where I learned the incredible truth that when looking solely at calories a ½ rack of ribs appears to be a more virtuous choice than a plate of pasta with broccoli.

But none of that matters, because I wanted a little pre-game warm up. I was in the mood for wings and a beer. You know, fried foods that might not be exceptional, but should at least be solid.

For all I know, they might be.

But the plate arrived at our table and it had been sitting in the window for far too long. How do I know? Well, the wings looked a bit dried out. But the smoking gun was that they blue cheese sauce had crusted over and the celery on the plate was actually warm. Let me clarify. The celery wasn’t cool, and it wasn’t even room temperature. It was truly warm.

And that had some terrible effects on the wings. Instead of the skin being crisp, it was slimy. Instead of the sauce being cohesive, it separated and was oily. The whole thing made my stomach churn, and I couldn’t even bring myself to finish a paltry plate of wings. It was sad.

But no sadder than the wing most people will eat today by choice.

I’ve decided for my Super Bowl observance to remove the wing in its entirety. If I were going to fry at home, that would be one thing. But I’m not. Instead I will celebrate its essence in two ways.

1) I will make a batch of Buffalo sauce, and slather things with it until the sauce pot is entirely depleted. This is such an easy thing to make, with just butter, Frank’s Red Hot and a splash of vinegar. You can add other pepper sauces for a rounder spice profile, or not, as you prefer. I like a little Tabasco for heat and some Crystal for brightness.

At a minimum, the sauce will grace duck fat potatoes and macaroni and cheese. That reminds me, I’ve still got a little blue cheese wedge wrapped in the fridge. Hopefully I’ll remember to break that out later today.

2) I bought a bag of the scariest pretzels in the known universe. You know, the ones that taste like chicken and are almost juicy with fat as you bite into them. This is food science gone right. Seriously, I’d much rather have these Buffalo style pretzels than the chicken wings I tried to eat last night.

It’s possible that I’ll have to get the kids into this annual tradition of mine. It’s tough because Monday remains a school day. Sometime in the future the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday is going to be declared a national holiday, mark my words. But that’s beside the point.

This may be their year.

I have fond memories as a kid being able to eat chips, and have a hot dog dinner in front of the television. It was the team with the gold helmets versus the team with the tiger-striped helmets. I had no idea what was going on, but I was happy to be included. And hey…hot dogs.

Really, it was that moment that I was kind of hooked on the Super Bowl. Of course, if I get hot dogs for my kids they are going to be The Great Organic Beef Hot Dog from Applegate Farms. Nothing says lovin’ like a grass-fed hot dog. Because if you think for a second I’m letting the little ones near my duck, foie gras and sauternes sausages, you’ve got another think coming.

I hope you have a great celebration today. If you are frying wings at home, I’m totally jealous. And if you aren’t, I hope you consider joining me in skipping them entirely. There are a lot of delicious things to eat when watching football on TV and drinking copious amounts of beer. But life is too short for eating wings that are not hot.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. phairhead permalink
    February 5, 2012 1:42 pm

    psst! tour de hot wings :D

  2. February 5, 2012 2:17 pm

    I’m all for embracing the best in food, but you just generalized the quality of take-out wings based on a bad experience at Ruby Tuesday. Let’s allow that to sink in for a minute…

    • February 5, 2012 2:37 pm

      You show me a wing that’s traveled from the fryer to a box to a car to your house to your mouth that is even a shadow of the glory that is served at The Ruck and I’ll take it all back. The Ruby Tuesday fiasco was just one recent example of the tragic consequences from less than hot wings.

  3. February 5, 2012 2:19 pm

    I wanted wings today, but I just can’t justify the calories — and that’s just for a half-dozen of them! So instead, I’m eating Buffalo chicken spring rolls (shredded chicken, sauce, cheese, baked in egg roll wrappers). It’s a healthier alternative, definitely more worth the calories (much as I miss the crispy goodness of wings).

  4. February 5, 2012 6:23 pm

    You really don’t have to fry wings. Get some rice flour at the Asian market, shake the wings with the flour in a plastic bag. Shake off the excess and bake in a 425 oven on the top rack. They will be nice and crispy without any oil and with Buffalo wing sauce, you’re done. They really turn out good this way. It’s our go to dinner if we’re cooking at the last minute. Turn them once or twice, you won’t be sorry!

  5. February 7, 2012 4:10 pm

    I made Korean fried chicken wings which would totally solve your problem. They’re as good cold as hot, and if the sauce soaks in that’s a good thing. http://wp.me/p1S3Ig-9g

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