So the Super Bowl is tomorrow, and just as Super Bowl viewership is essentially non-optional for Americans who do not wish to be regarded with open suspicion by their acquaintances and coworkers, the provision of chicken wings is essentially non-optional for Super Bowl party hosts who do not wish to be shunned by all their friends and loved ones. The key difference between the two (after the fact that the Super Bowl is a multi-billion-dollar television spectacle, and wings are small disembodied chicken parts) is that wings are wonderful, and the Super Bowl is whatever's the exact opposite of that.
What's more fun to eat than the hot wing? Nothing, unless you are a lion, in which case the answer is "clowns." It requires only as much attention as will help you avoid choking to death on its bones, and no more; it's hot and tangy and (when properly made) crispy and juicy; its piquancy brings you back, almost unconsciously and completely uncontrollably, for more and more and more. The hot wing is a perfect foodstuff.
And! Easy to make—which makes it rather silly that Americans will spend untold millions of dollars ordering wings at huge markups from crappy pizza delivery joints tomorrow instead of making their own. Look: There's a reason why pizza joints staffed by dead-eyed teenagers lacking even the most rudimentary cooking skills all, without fail, offer hot wings for delivery, and it's not—or not only—that hot wings are delicious. After all, lobster bisque is delicious, too, and Papa John's isn't bringing you any of that, no matter how many times you ask. They make hot wings because hot wings are almost comically easy to produce, and because even the tiny, indifferently-made wings you get from friggin' Domino's or wherever are tasty enough to get dingbats to pay way too much money for them.
Well, why pay some pimply pissant to do no work, when you can do (almost) no work yourself and have much, much tastier wings? Don't be a sucker. Are you a sucker? No. You are not a sucker. Make your own chicken wings. Let's make your own chicken wings. Right now!
The first thing to do, of course, is acquire chicken wings. You have a couple of options, here, one of which will reveal itself to be the only actual option in a moment. You can buy a bunch of whole chicken wings and spend a very long time hacking each one of them apart at the joints, rendering them into the wingettes and drumettes you recognize from the previous five hundred thousand chicken wings you have eaten; or, if your grocery store or supermarket has them, you can buy pre-hacked wings because you have a real adult life and would like to proceed with it at some point.
(Note: If you are wondering, here, whether you couldn't just get some chicken wings from the chickens you raised and dispatched yourself in your quaint urban co-op farm, the answer is that—hey whoa, look, a suspenders and fedoras sale! You better hurry over there or you're going to miss it.)
The point here is that, however you go about it, you'll need to have wingettes and drumettes (as opposed to whole chicken wings) before you proceed to the part where you cook chicken wings. Make it easy on yourself and buy the kind that somebody else butchered for you. This will save you not only the time spent hacking away at a large number of whole chicken wings until you lose all enthusiasm for the entire chicken-wing enterprise, but also the time spent removing stinky salmonella juice from every surface of your home, where it splattered while you were hacking chicken wings apart.
In any case, however you choose to go about it, eventually you'll have your big pile of very small chicken parts, which you have smartly allowed to come to room temperature even though that part of this internet food column is not boldfaced. Cook them! This is pretty straightforward. Pour, oh, four or five inches of a good frying oil (vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, not lavender-scented baby oil) into a big pot and get it hot over medium-high heat. We've talked about the wooden-spoon trick for measuring the heat of frying oil before, but maybe you have dementia, so let's review: Dip the tip of a wooden spoon into your frying oil; if tiny bubbles immediately begin to form on (and detach from) its surface, the oil is hot enough to have food dropped into it, which is totally an OK thing for a demented person to do.
Gently lower a half-dozen or so of the wing pieces into the oil (if the oil is hot enough, there should be a lot of very obvious cooking activity happening right away—the oil should look like it is boiling). More than that will lower the temperature of the oil too drastically, which will result in a longer cook-time and greasier wings. These will need, oh, 8 or 9 or 10 minutes to cook, during which time you can leave them alone; while this first batch cooks, make hot wing sauce. That's just hot sauce and butter, basically, with maybe small extra amounts of vinegar or salt added until it tastes the way you want it. A wonderfully tasty and simple hot wing sauce contains nothing but, oh, a stick or so of butter, lots and lots of both vinegary tabasco-style hot sauce and sriracha, and a pinch of salt. Combine these things in a little saucepot over low heat so the butter can melt into the other stuff. You don't need a ton of it—you're not making spicy hot-wing soup, here—just enough to fully coat however many wings you're making. If you've got a cup and a half of hot wing sauce, you've likely got more than enough.
(Note: If you want to purée some of your homegrown chilis and combine them with your home-fermented vinegar because ugh, only sheeple use some company's hot sauce, maaaaan or whatever the hell, that's fine, so long as you acknowledge up front that your reason for doing this is so that you can be an insufferable dickwad about it.)
So, eight or 9 or 10 minutes have gone by; the wings in your first batch have floated to the surface of the oil and, if you roll them over, you'll notice they've browned a bit here and there. They're done. Remove the first batch of wings from the oil and dump 'em on a drying rack or paper towel so they can drip off any oil that came out of the pot with them. And now, cook another batch of wings, and remove that one when it's done, and so on, until you have cooked all of your wings.
At some point, while a batch is cooking, make blue cheese dip or dressing or whatever. This is made a bunch of different ways, with mayonnaise or sour cream or yogurt, with added lemon juice or herbs or spices or milk all of those things or none of them; the one thing all blue cheese dips/dressings have in common, as you may have guessed, is blue cheese. Crumble some of that into a bowl, or the bowl of a food processor. We're gonna mix that with sour cream instead of mayonnaise, today, since sour cream does a better job than mayo of moderating the piquant heat of your wings, which will enable you to eat more of them. Add some sour cream to the bowl and mix everything together; if you're not using a food processor, whisk the hell out of this stuff, to break up the blue cheese and mix it into the sour cream. If the result is thicker and gloopier than you'd like, mix in some mayo (or even milk) in tiny increments until it's where you want it to be. There. Blue cheese substance. If you'd like to add other stuff, hell, go ahead, it's your goddamn dip.
From here there's nothing much left to do but cook the rest of your wings in batches until you've cooked 'em all. When they're all cooked and have had some time to drain, dump all your cooked wings into a big freezer bag or salad bowl and toss them with your hot wing sauce.
And ... that's it. No, really! Pile your wings onto a big plate or platter, dump some celery sticks on there for everyone to ignore, and stick a cup of that blue cheese substance on there somewhere. Serve. With beer.
You set your platter of wings on the table before your Super Bowl guests, you stand up to stretch your back, and ... shit, wouldja lookit that, all the wings are gone. But boy, everybody sure liked 'em! They were: crispy, and juicy, and tangy, and hot, and the blue cheese dressing was rich and smooth and sharp, and man they were so fun to eat, how they turned everybody's fingertips and lips orange, and look at the little cairn of bones standing there as a testament to the communal bonding and good times your wings provided for those lousy fucking ingrates why couldn't they leave me any goddamn wings, for chrissakes I only cooked the fucking things.
Gnaw some celery while you make more, and eat these ones by yourself, in the closet.
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Albert Burneko is an eating enthusiast and father of two. His work can be found destroying everything of value in his crumbling home. Peevishly correct his foolishness at firstname.lastname@example.org, or publicly and succinctly on Twitter @albertburneko. You can find lots more Foodspin at foodspin.deadspin.com.
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