I am not a fan of spicy foods. I especially loathe the race to ever spicier foods. Whole shows dedicated to making people eat foods that will likely lead to those foods making a return appearance later in the show, well, seem stupid.
Food is to be enjoyed. Not designed to tear a hole in your stomach.
Which brings me to hot wings. Buffalo hot wings. Simple. The origin story involves spare, cheap parts being repurposed for a quick meal. Fast forward a few decades and now these cheap parts, the chicken wings, are actually quite a bit more expensive than the chicken thighs!! Given the meat to bone ratio, the price for wings is rather ridiculous. However, the idea of buffalo thighs is just an anathema. Sacrilege! So, I shall pay the outrageous price as an homage to tradition. Granted, it’s a rather recent tradition, but tradition nonetheless.
Most hot sauces have lots of vinegar to punctuate the sensation of eating a hot food. So, I figured why not use the same enhancement on my wings? There are rumors a certain chicken fast food restaurant marinates their chicken in a pickle brine. As luck would have it, I actually had some. We love Clausen’s Dill Pickles. They are crisp, not too tart, with the perfect level of dill. After we recently finished a large, warehouse sized container of said pickles, I had a ton of pickle brine sitting around. Since the price was right, and I wanted to try this technique, this brine served as my marinade.
The result? Tender wings with a really complex flavor profile. They didn’t taste like pickles, which was no small concern, but you could tell the influence of the brine was there. My husband’s smoking hot wings were made more intense and my milder wings were really great without being crazy hot.
I would totally make this again. It’s easy. Cheaper than take out wings, and definitely better!
Buffalo Hot Wings, half really, really spicy, half “normal” spicy.
Serves: A Crowd
Prep Time: 2-3 hours (marinating)
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
2 1/2 – 3 pounds chicken wings
Brine from 80 ounce package of Clausen’s Pickles
Add chicken wings to a closable plastic freezer bag. Pour brine into freezer bag, careful not to overfill. Close bag and marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Preheat Oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit
Super Hot Wings Sauce
4 Tablespoons melted bacon drippings, lard, or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons cayenne
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
Combine well melted or liquid fat and spices, divide into two portions, three quarters and one quarter (reserved). In a small bowl, place three quarters of the liquid and half of the chicken wings. Toss wings with sauce. Alternatively, you could brush the sauce directly on the wings. Place a grate on a half sheet pan to elevate the wings. Place wings on grate.
Regular Hot Wings Sauce
1/3rd cup melted Ghee or clarified butter or vegetable oil
1/3rd cup favorite Hot Sauce
Combine well melted butter or ghee and hot sauce, divide into two portions, three quarters and one quarter (reserved). In a small bowl, place three quarters of the liquid and half of the chicken wings. Toss wings with sauce. Alternatively, you could brush the sauce directly on the wings individually. Place wings on grate, next to spicy wings.
Bake wings for 25-30 minutes until completely cooked through, turning once during the cook time. At the end of the cooking, lightly brush the remaining sauce on the wings.
Serve with blue cheese dressing and any other accompaniments.