Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wings of Desire (Himmel uber Buffalo)

Steve Martin once tweeted of wings:

Steve Martin
Buffalo wings = chicken wings in spicy sauce. World = full of lies. : [

Back in September Brent posted about wings on his blog.  In his blog he claims that wings are "easy to cook, relatively quick and delicious."  I knew the last thing to be true.  But are they easy?  Are they relatively quick?

In that same post Chris of NibbleMeThis made a comment, "I fire roast mine at 375f for 1 hour and they usually come out crispy enough. I do them 30 minutes, flip, 20 minutes, toss in sauce and put them back on for 10 more minutes with the bottom vent all the way open letting the temp come up."

Easy enough, right?  Somewhere along the way I'd read on the that wings get crispier if you raise the grid.  So I used my adjustable rig to get the wings high above the fire. I rubbed these wings with Dizzy Pig's Raging River and then followed the instructions above. Toward the end of the cook I tossed them in Stubb's spicy BBQ sauce and let the temp come up for 10 minutes.

Oops.  So I learned 2 things from this.
1. My thermometer was no longer properly calibrated.
2. Chris does his wings at INDIRECT heat.  

These died a fiery, charred death on direct heat at some level higher than 375f.  Gross.  My worst cook--ever.  On Wednesday I joked about becoming vegan.  If ever I was in danger, it was after I threw these wings away.

I didn't learn how to cook awesome wings right away from this experience.  I had to keep playing with it.

In fact, this pursuit of wing excellence took me down some dangerous side paths.  In December Labon and I were having a somewhat leisurely dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings when spontaneously we agreed to take the "Blazin' Wing Challenge."  The goal here is to eat 12 of their "Blazin'" (i.e. hot) wings in under 6 minutes. Here are some mobile phone shots of the wreckage from the wings and the challenger.
bones and sauce
Yes, it was spicy.

Should you succeed (and I did) you get a glass of water and a free t-shirt.

But I digress.  Wings really are tricky in my opinion.  They're so small and you want to get them crispy, but keep them tender.  That leaves a pretty narrow window in which to stick it just right.  You have to be vigilant with wings.  At least I have to be vigilant with wings.

I do like the the direct method.  Honestly I haven't tried the indirect method since figuring that element out. from Chris (but I will).  The secret for me has been simply shortening the cook time from an hour to about 40 or 45 min.  Labon is great with wings.  He's also hyper vigilant.  He'll check the wings every few minutes to see if they're coming along just right.  Each individual wing gets special attention with the understanding that you're going to have hot spots with direct heat.  This guy is cooking too fast.  Get him away from the heat.  This guy needs more heat.  Let's switch 'em.  The proof is in the wing-eatin.  He nails 'em.

My dad and I did this batch where we shortened the cook time to 45 minutes (20 min on one side at 375f raised with direct heat.  Flip.  Cook for 20 min, sauce and give 'em 5 more to caramelize). We used Ragin' River again but Sweet Baby Ray's Original sauce. They were awesome. 

 I'm still learning.  But you know what?  There are many roads that lead to  yummy wings.



  1. Wow, those did turn out crispy! lol

    Ah we live and learn, don't we? Way to knock out the wing challenge! I don't know that I could have done that.

  2. Crispy. Yeah. I almost dubbed them Pompeii-style. You're right though. Live and learn.

    The wing challenge was fun. I don't think I have a career in competitive eating in my future though.