Friday July 5, 2013

Ahhhh, that long-time rival. In my home, my oldest boy (15 years old ) loves to "walk against traffic." He has always liked Buffalo even though he is a 12th generation Yankee. Well, at least football food will still keep us all together regardless of who we root for. But just to be a stick in the mud and a thorn in my son’s side, I would like to offer another rivalry: Chicken wings! We all love those red, basted hot wings that are acclaimed across the globe -- known as Buffalo Wings. But here is my spin on these classic tailgating snacks. It has the same kick but a slightly sweet aftertaste that I think you will enjoy. Don’t be afraid to use this sauce on chicken drums as well.

Yankee Chicken Wings

I have Frenched these wings just because I had some spare time on my hands but this isn’t necessary. I have also removed all the skin from the wings as well in order to lower the saturated fat content. I promise the taste or crispness is not compromised one bit. In fact, I enjoy savoring the flavor of the chicken itself rather than the fatty skin.

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup jarred, sliced banana peppers, packed*

3 tablespoons juice from jarred banana peppers*

1 cup apple juice

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon chopped, dried dill, optional

3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

20-24 chicken wings, frenched(if desired) and skin removed(if desired)

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water well; set aside.

Make the Yankee Wing Sauce. In a food processor or blender, add the peppers, pepper juice, apple juice, mustard, dill and maple syrup. Pulse until well combined and the peppers are very small, remove to a medium saucepan. Over high heat, bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Stir the cornstarch slurry once again to bind together and when sauce is boiling, quickly add and stir immediately. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. You will notice the sauce has thickened and it will continue to thicken upon standing, as well as form a skin on top. Stir frequently to prevent this skin from forming.

In the meantime, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Cut the chicken wing tips off(the part that has no meat). Doing this allows the wings to lay flat on the grate. Arrange the wings on the grill and cook for about 16-18 minutes, depending on the size of the wings. Turn wings frequently.

About 10 minutes into cooking, start basting your wings with the Yankee Wing Sauce liberally. About a minute before removing from the grill, baste one last time. Remove to a serving platter and either dose these sweet and spicy wings with more sauce or serve it on the side.

* Or substitute one small yellow habanero pepper, seeded and minced with three tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

Frenching Chicken Wings

With a sharp knife, slit the joint where the drum meets the drummette(erroneously called the elbow) then cut off the chicken wing tip. Grab the drum with one hand and the drummette with the other and "rock" back and forth until you hear the pop of the joint coming out of place. You can see the round joint protruding through the slit you just made.

Cut in between the drum and drummette and separate the two. With your fingers, push the skin and meat of the drum toward the larger end, exposing the bone underneath. Although not necessary, you can scrub the residual meat from the bone. The reason some do this is because(as seen in the picture)when cooking, it blackens and thereby is not very presentable. But it was just me eating these wings so I didn’t much care.

Chef Jim Baley -- The Yankee Chef -- is a noted food columnist, cookbook author and the foremost New England Food Historian. He is a third generation chef and historian and lives in Maine with his wife and four children. He welcomes feedback at theyankeechef@aol.com.