Blue Cheese For Buffalo
Well, that went better than expected. The response to my Declaration of Wing Excellence was largely positive. Although I did get one significant criticism, and that was based on the absence of any discussion about blue cheese and celery.
The funny part was that an early draft of the declaration did include those elements, but they got scrapped because ultimately these things aren’t wings.
Still, they are an inextricable part of the dish. And my online critic suggested that I could probably write a full post on blue cheese dressing alone. Frankly, I’m not sure how interesting that would be. But I’m willing to give it a try.
Ranch dressing isn’t necessarily evil.
That said, most ranch dressing is vile and unseemly stuff. It’s thick, and gummy, and sweet, and greasy. More than anything else it seems like food lube, and I can’t get my head around why anyone would ever use it.
Feeding it to kids in order to mask the flavors of raw vegetables seems like one of the worst ideas ever. And I have a sneaking suspicion that because so many parents used this trick on their toddlers, we have seen an uptick on the acceptance of ranch dressing as an okay thing in adult society.
Even the best stuff that comes from the grocery store shelf has no business on actual food. It’s filled with soybean oil, sugars, artificial flavors, and thickeners. Yuck.
What’s funny is that making your own ranch dressing at home is super simple, and a true, creamy, buttermilk dressing is indeed one of life’s great joys. The trick is that when you do it at home, it’s not a thinned down mayonnaise, but rather mostly buttermilk thickened with sour cream (and a little bit of mayo for body).
However, even if you made your own buttermilk ranch dressing, it would still be out of place next to an order of buffalo wings. The natural complement to these fried, spicy, and buttery bar snacks is blue cheese dressing. Period.
Blue cheese brings the funk. But it also brings a ton of flavor. And when you are eating through a plate of fiery wings, you need something bold to reach those burnt out taste buds and make the next bite as delicious as the first.
Of course, there are those people who like to dunk their wings directly into the blue cheese to bring more depth and complexity to the wing itself.
I’ve seen some acceptable brands of blue cheese dressing in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Still, these do not hold a candle to making your own. The recipe I use comes from Jasper Hill Farm, and while I’ve made it using the farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue, I have also made substitutions.
What I like about this preparation is that there is no mayonnaise at all. It’s not that I’m a mayonnaise hater, but when it comes to blue cheese dressing, I don’t want it to be sweet. I want thick and creamy, with a ton of blue cheese character, and just thin enough for one handed dipping.
This recipe relies heavily on a sour cream base, with a little bit of buttermilk used to get the consistency right.
It’s possible that some people don’t like blue cheese dressing because they’ve only had the bottled crap which can be just as bad as ranch dressing. But when push comes to shove, I would still prefer a crappy blue cheese to a crappy ranch any day.