Day 1 – Buffalo Wings
Take Buffalo Wings for example.
In 1983, my sister took up with a hairy-arsed Glaswegian and they moved from Port Moresby to the wilds of Long Island, New York. (Stay with me here). Family and friends turned up from all over the world to their wedding and it was while I was there that I first went to a diner and saw Buffalo wings on the menu. Also, deep-fried potato skins, but that’s a story for later in the week.
My initial impression of US restaurant food was typical for one coming from a land that was, well, not America. The servings were enormous and there was no heed placed whatsoever to any health giving qualities of the food. Also, it tasted bloody delicious and was universally given over to that most wonderful of pastimes, watching cable TV sport.
My mother viewed it all with faint scepticism but my soon to be brother-in-law and my father were immediately drawn to the entire concept. Eat greasy food and drink beer, solve the problems of the world. God bless America. Slainte.
Buffalo wings and deep-fried potato skins were then consigned to my memory bank, along with the particularly horrible poofie hairstyle and the fetching green bridesmaid dress I wore and the way the Brits seemed to know what a knees-up was, but not the bemused New Yorkers and the view from the Empire State Building. And that was that.
And then, some thirty years later, Dude Food threatened to take over the world and this time we were all enthralled.
Now, I don’t make any great claims to authenticity here. Buffalo wings, named after the city they first appeared, NOT the animal, have been bastardised over the years. It gets ugly as soon as you start trying to crack the recipe code. Baked or fried, hot sauce on before or after marinating the chicken, blue cheese dip to the side not over the meat – it’s a long-seated argument I don’t want to enter. At the heart of it is a platter of meltingly tender and hotly spiced chicken wings, some fiery barbecue sauce, some blue cheese dip on the side to cool your mouth down afterwards and always, always, some celery to dip into the blue cheese.
This is a meal whose time has come. Dude Food. Footy Food. You can prepare the chicken and sauces the day before, giving you valuable time with friends through the day. Serve it up this weekend (you may well have to make double if you’re feeding a crowd) and stand well back as the hordes descend on the table.
I hope your team wins.
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If you want to make a feast of it, serve it with some of the following ideas, all variations of eating with one hand while holding a stubby in the other:
Makes 24 pieces
12 large chicken wings (1.5kgs); 125g butter; 2 tsp tabasco or peri-peri sauce; 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce; 3 crushed garlic cloves; 2 tsp white pepper; ½ bunch celery
Barbecue Sauce: 1 tbsp olive oil; 1 onion, grated; 2 garlic cloves, crushed; 1 tsp ground coriander; 1 tsp cumin; 1 tsp chilli flakes or cajun spice mix; 2 tbsp soft brown sugar; 1 tbsp white or cider vinegar; 1/3 cup (80ml) tomato sauce; 1 tsp Dijon or english mustard; 1 tsp salt
Blue Cheese sauce: 150ml (150g) sour cream; ½ cup (125ml) mayonnaise; 150g soft creamy mild blue cheese (such as castello or the type sold in blue-foil wrapped half circles. I bought mine in Aldi)
Using a sharp knife, trim the wing tips off the chicken wings (save them for your next stock) and then cut through the joint to make two pieces. Place the wings in a heat proof glass or ceramic bowl.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the tabasco, Worcestershire, garlic and pepper and stir well to combine. Cook for about 30 seconds until the butter is fragrant, then pour the spiced butter over the chicken wings. Toss well to coat the chicken, then cover the bowl with cling wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight.
Barbecue sauce: Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the grated onion and crushed garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onion softens, stirring frequently to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the coriander, cumin, chilli or cajun spice mix, brown sugar and vinegar and stir well to combine until the sugar melts.
Add the tomato sauce, 1 cup of water, salt and mustard and stir well to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce reduces to about one and a half cups. Remove from heat and set aside, or chill overnight. Bring it back to room temperature before serving it up.
This barbecue sauce is adapted from a recipe by Jill Dupleix
Blue Cheese sauce: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl. Use a fork to mash the cheese into the cream and mix well to combine. Serve chilled.
To serve: Pre-heat the oven to 220 °C and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the chicken wings in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until brown and cooked through.
While the chicken is baking, trim the celery stalks and cut into batons about 1 cm wide and 8 cm long.
Serve the hot and spicy wings with bowls of barbecue sauce and blue cheese sauce on the side and a pile of celery sticks nearby.
$16.00 for 24 pieces and dips