Tis the season to be jolly. Tis also a Holiday weekend filled with football. Denver Broncos football in particular. And since the Broncos are shuffling off to Buffalo, you can bet their will be some Wings involved in this weeks Food Theme. But before we get to that, I would like to share the edible appetizer seen above that I created for a Christmas Party a few days ago. It doesn't really have a name, but I suppose you could call it, a "Cream Cheese Pine Cone" since those are the only two ingredients. I used Rondele Gourmet Spreadable Cheese (Garlic and Artichoke) along with 1 lb. of Smoked Almonds, but it could be made with Philly Cream Cheese and Honey Smoked Almonds for a sweeter flavor. I garnished the platter with a few cuttings from a pine tree in my yard. I can say it went over very well. The ladies were impressed and it only took about 20 minutes to assemble.
Now we will move past the Holiday theme and on to the football theme of the week. It's all about Buffalo Chicken here, so if you're tired of "Yard Bird" as my uncle would say, you might want to stop reading. If not, then we will begin with a Dip that is as easy as a shovel pass. This will take 5 minutes to prep and will be ready in 45 minutes.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
- 2 (10 oz.) cans chunk chicken, drained
- 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup Ranch dressing
- 3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot®)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces
- 1 (8 oz.) box chicken-flavored crackers
Heat the chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook and stir until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers. Blue Cheese dressing can be substituted for the Ranch with excellent results.
Now it would be remiss fit if I didn't include the dish that made the Bills home city famous. Legend has it, that the Buffalo wing was born at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY in 1964. The couple who owned the bar at that time was asked by their son to cook up some snacks for him and his friends one evening. The wife used what she had available and whipped up a batch of deep fried chicken wings in hot sauce. The rest is, as they say, history. However, the locals just call them "wings" and not "Buffalo wings." I have also heard that the Anchor bar does NOT have the best wings in Buffalo. Duffs or The Big Tree near Ralph Wilson Stadium are said to be more satisfying.
The classic Buffalo wing is a section of chicken wing (drumette or flapper) that is fried without breading. After coming out of the fryer, they are liberally coated with a simple sauce made of vinegar, butter, and cayenne pepper hot sauce. Celery and blue cheese dressing are typically served alongside to help cut the heat of the sauce.
- 3-4 lbs chicken wings, tips removed, separated into wingette and drumette sections
- Oil for frying
- 1/2 Cup butter
- 3/4 Cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce (You could use another brand of vinegar based hot pepper sauce, but Frank's is the best)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently until butter is melted, stirring occasionally to emulsify. Do not boil or the sauce will separate. This can also be done in a microwave. Set the mixture aside and keep warm. Heat the oil to 375 degrees in a deep, heavy pan, leaving several inches of room for the oil level to rise. Fry the wings in small batches for 12-15 minutes depending on size or until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Be sure to bring the oil back up to 375 in between batches. Drain on paper towels.
Wings are best if sauced straight from the fryer, but they usually must be done in small batches at home, so here's a tip. Cook all of your wings, then refresh the early batches with a quick second dip in the hot oil once all of the wings are cooked. Then sauce the entire amount at one time. To sauce the wings, place them in a large bowl with a lid and pour the sauce over top. Secure the lid and shake the bowl vigorously to evenly distribute the sauce. Serve immediately.
If you prefer a spicier wing, simply add crushed red pepper and/or Tabasco sauce to taste to the recipe above. A milder flavor can be achieved by using more butter and less hot sauce, or by simply decreasing the amount of sauce on the wings, but this will affect the texture adversely. Properly sauced Buffalo wings will be thoroughly covered in sauce, but the skin will absorb most of the sauce while remaining crispy, with only a small amount of loose sauce remaining on the bottom of the bowl.
Personally, I like my chicken without bones and gristle. So I will offer this alternative. I am not trying to offend the Wing purists, merely to conjure up another option. This recipe takes about 50 minutes and makes 6 servings.
Boneless Buffalo Wings
- Oil for deep frying
- 2 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 1/2 cup hot pepper sauce
- 2 Tablespoons butter
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Combine flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and paprika in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a small bowl. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, and then roll in the flour blend. Repeat so that each piece of chicken is double coated. Refrigerate breaded chicken for 20 minutes.
Fry chicken in the hot oil, in batches. Cook until the exterior is nicely browned, and the juices run clear, 5 to 6 minutes a batch. Combine hot sauce and butter in a small bowl. Microwave sauce on High until melted, 20 to 30 seconds. Pour sauce over the cooked chicken; mix to coat.
Here is something a little different. This entree takes around 40 minutes from start to finish and will yield 8 servings.
Rob's Spicy Sweet Buffalo Chicken
- 1 Cup all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 4 eggs
- 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
- 2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
- 1/4 Cup hot sauce
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 3 Tablespoons butter
Whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, nutmeg, dried parsley, and chili powder in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Transfer half the flour mixture into another bowl. Beat eggs in a third bowl.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Dredge chicken pieces into flour mixture in the first bowl, then dip into beaten egg; finally dip each piece in flour mixture from the second bowl. Place 3 or 4 breaded chicken pieces at a time into the hot oil, and deep-fry until the chicken is golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the center of a chicken piece should read 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
Stir the hot sauce with soy sauce in a saucepan over low heat; slowly stir the honey into the sauce, mixing until well combined. Stir butter into the sauce. Place the deep-fried chicken into a bowl, and toss with the sauce to serve.
For a hotter Buffalo sauce, add less butter.
For the final offering, this offering from Pillsbury® will please your Italian style taste buds. It makes 6 servings and takes less than a half hour.
Buffalo Chicken Stromboli
- 1 (13.8 ounce) can Pillsbury® refrigerated classic pizza crust
- 2 Cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1/4 Cup Buffalo wing sauce
- 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll the dough and place on the cookie sheet. Starting at center, press out dough into 14x10-inch rectangle. In small bowl, mix chicken and wing sauce; spread down center of rectangle to within 1 inch of edges. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold shorter sides of dough 1 inch over filling. Bring long sides of dough over filling, overlapping in center; pinch edge to seal. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve.
These ideas should help you enjoy watching the Broncos Burn the Bills on Saturday and may our football extend into the postseason. As always, good eats and...
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