Let’s get the Q & A out of the way…
You: You live in Buffalo, right?
Me: Yes. Well, 10 minutes to the south, but close enough.
You: And you made some chicken wings…sweet.
You: But…um…those don’t look spicy. Or buttery. Or dripping with Franks.
That’s all. I’ll let you know what happens on my way to work tomorrow. I’m guessing there’s gonna be a police blockade along with a couple greasy cooks from the Anchor Bar looking for the guy in Buffalo making chicken wings without the, uh, Buffalo. I may be breaking some unwritten rule I don’t know about…I mean, I didn’t grow up here.
Two more things before we can talk about what’s actually in the picture above.
1) Designers of menus at crappy chain restaurants all across the country right now are taking their bland, boring items, throwing the word “Buffalo” in front of them, and putting some hot sauce on top. Stop it. Very annoying. Well, at least you aren’t celebrating our other national claims to fame – an almost good enough football team and crappy winter weather (which isn’t really that bad.)
2) The chicken wing is a really underused item. Why is it that you rarely see them other than on the appetizer menu in “Buffalo” form? They are delicious (much tastier than the breast). They are cheap (much cheaper than the breast). They cook really quickly – much quicker than your dry, expensive chicken breast. Not you personally. Just someone out there, who had a dry leathery chicken breast for dinner. We can get wings from a farmer up the road for under $2/LB, frozen in nice 1 LB packages. Molly calls them “chicken bones” and plays the drums on her plate when she’s done. What’s not to love?
Looking for something different to do with chicken wings wasn’t difficult to do. You can pretty much take any kind of dry rub, sauce or glaze and work from there. I wanted to do something with lavender, because it’s great and it goes with chicken. Honey because I wanted something sweet, and lemon, because me and lemon, we can’t stay away from each other. Getting married soon.
The wings went into a bath of some lemon juice, a little vinegar, salt/pepper and olive oil for about an hour before we ate. Some flavor, some tenderness maybe (not really an issue with these guys) and an interesting study that’s been popping up lately – we knew that those yummy charred crunchy bits on grilled food (hmmm…none of those in the photo above) were delicious and also potentially a carcinogen. There’s research now that a quick acidic bath might actually help mitigate some of that. The phrase “unmarinated breasts” appears in that article. Hopefully that doesn’t cause any unnecessary blushing or run-in’s with your corporate IT policies. Either way, the marinade doesn’t hurt the wing, so make a basic vinaigrette and let the wings hang out in that. It may end up having some benefits.
I grilled them directly over a hot charcoal fire, gas grill would be fine, so would a broiler. As soon as the wings were basically done, but weren’t completely crispy, they got the glaze. It was a big scoop of honey, a lemon’s worth of juice, a big handful of chopped lavender and some more s/p all whisked up together. It tasted good just as is – the first clue that it was going to be good on the wings. Brush it on one side of the wings, flip them, let them sit for a minute, brush and flip again. Keep doing that – but be careful. The honey has this deep, dark urge to burn, and it will not be stopped. If there’s any left, you can give the wings a little coat after they come off the grill.
These won’t be the last non-Buffalo chicken wings this summer. A perfect dinner served with a salad, and some ice cream for dessert.
The ice cream was homemade “coffee with crunchies” (Molly’s name for Coffee Heath Bar Crunch) using the coffee ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop. Super good. Here’s the beans soaking in milk, cream and sugar. What a way to go.