Tag Archives: Hot sauce

Buffalo Hot Wings

Mild and Hot Wings, ready for dipping!

Mild and Hot Wings, ready for dipping!

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

Wing Base

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.

Buffalo Hot Wings

Had to see if they would all fit, which they did! Note the pickle brine pieces.

Buffalo Hot Wings

Buffalo Hot Wings

So spicy!!

Homemade Hot Sauce

Spicy hot sauce

Yes, we actually “canned” it!

I went to graduate school in New Orleans, Louisiana “pre-Katrina”. I love that city. New Orleans inspired my mom and I to cook. To go “all in” and “kick it up a notch”. Emeril’s Creole Christmas Cookbook changed our Christmas dinners forever. Our appetizers went from humdrum shrimp dip and crackers to Corn Cakes with Christmas Caviar Sauce. We learned how to make gumbo and jambalaya and all things étouffée. And the desserts. My goodness, bread pudding is simply amazing and so incredibly easy!

While in New Orleans, I met Emeril Lagasse, just as he was becoming the superstar. Yes, he actually cooked in his restaurant, and the food was amazing. My friends and I would try to get a seat at the tables overlooking the kitchen to watch him cook! Emeril wasn’t the only game in town, however. Paul Prudhomme’s restaurant was really hard to get into and the food was well worth the wait! Local dives that would likely fail health codes elsewhere were serving up traditional New Orleans favorites. And the crawfish. Being from Maryland, crawfish were way easier to pick than crabs!! A very refreshing change of pace.   Last, but not least, there are not enough nice things to say about Commander’s Palace.  Truly an amazing place.

And here is where I found Crystal Hot Sauce. I never cared for Tabasco (gasp!), but Crystal actually tasted like something other than “hot” and vinegar. My husband is the type that loves hot sauce and crazy spicy foods. Crystal doesn’t do it for him. He also LOVES to make things himself. So, on a day when I was a bit under the weather, my husband and my son made hot sauce. I asked him if he would do a guest blog, but he said he’d take “a few pictures, they won’t be great” and that I could write it. So, here we are. We went to the farmer’s market and gathered a bunch of peppers that were labeled “hot”.

Farmer's Market Peppers

See that little red one at the top?  That’s something the farmer called really, really hot.  She wouldn’t sell it to my son unless we were there and said it was ok.  Yeah, it’s hot.

Now, if you want a red sauce, you need to pretty much use red peppers.  Our sauce is a bit “muddy” because of all the green colored peppers.  You could use red food coloring to make it the color you want, if you have a lot of green peppers you want to add to the sauce.  Also, if you are expecting something crazy hot, we’ve come to the conclusion that people must be adding capsaicin directly for the super hot sauces.  We’ve made sauces from habaneros and as the seeds are all strained out, the sauce was good, but not super hot.  The “hot” part of the pepper is contained within the seeds and white parts, and those are generally strained out.  What you will get is a sauce that’s spicy and complex with several layers of amazing flavor.

Hot sauce first appears in the United States appeared in the early 1800s in New England. In the 1860s, Edmund McIlhenny invented Tabasco sauce on Avery Island in Louisiana as a way to spice up food after Reconstruction period left southern food decidedly bland. By the 1870s, the sauce was widely available and even shipped ot England. To this day, the sauce is still made on Avery Island, over 140 years later.

Hot Sauce
Makes 1 Quart, 1 Pint

3-4 pounds of various hot peppers (stemmed)
1.5 liters of white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon thyme
4 ounces tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf

Roughly chop up peppers. Place peppers, vinegar, salt, and spices in a non-reactive sauce pan. Our 4 Quart stainless steel sauce pan was big enough. Simmer for 2 hours in a well ventilated area.

Remove peppers from vinegar and place in a food processor. Strain vinegar and set aside. Process the peppers until smooth, then press through a fine sieve.

Return processed pepper pulp to the sauce pan and add 1/2 of the vinegar mix, tomato paste, sugar and bay leaf. Adjust coloring and salt if desired. Simmer over low heat for an hour. Pour into sterilized jar or bottle and secure with an airtight lid. Let age at least two weeks before using. Maybe stored up to 6 months in the refrigerator.