Apparently there is some kind of important professional athletic competition coming up soon. I understand that for this holiest of high holy secular holidays, people gather around the largest television screen in their house to observe highly paid celebrities wearing brightly colored leotards and shiny helmets as they vie over possession of an inflated sheep’s bladder, or some artificial reproduction thereof, which must be carried down a rectangular field of grass, or some artificial reproduction thereof. Depending on which of the two groups of ruffians you choose to support, cheering (or cursing and frustrated yelling) occurs when said artificial bladder is carried or caught at the end of said field.
Frankly, all of this sounds like a mere excuse — a pretense, an artifice — to consume food and drink.
Well, I’m ready to announce that I’ve been working on something very special and important to me, which has been in development for several months: the ultimate chicken wing.
It begins with a pub in Chicago called Timothy O’Toole’s (i.e., Timmy’s) where my wife and I used to go when we lived there, down the street from our apartment just off of Lake Shore Drive in the Streeterville neighborhood. You’d enter the pub from the street and go downstairs where you could either sit at the bar, play darts or pool, watch one of the million games on television, or sit in a little booth off the bar and order food. After a hard day of my wife enduring anatomy lab and me putting up with the inanity of the Socratic method, we’d arrive at home too lazy to cook anything for dinner, and walk down to Timmy’s to eat and have a pint or two.
Ahh, good times. Child-free (carefree) times. I digress (lest I become too smitten with the idea).
The wings that made Timmy famous are not “Buffalo Wings”, which were purportedly invented in Buffalo, NY by a bar owner who ran out of food and only had a bunch of chicken wings, and made them into a snack. Buffalo Wings have a distinctly flavored sauce made from butter and Frank’s RedHot Sauce (or some similar variant). They are supposed to be spicy, and vinegary, and not sweet at all. Buffalo Wings are served with blue cheese dressing.
In contrast, Timmy’s wings were sweet and tangy, with much more flavor going on with the sauce than just pepper sauce and vinegar. They were deep fried, and then tossed piping hot with the sauce (of which you could choose the degree of spiciness you wanted, mild, medium, hot, extra hot), resulting in a wing with a crispy crackly skin coated in tangy sauce, best with ranch dressing as the dipping sauce.
In setting out to make my own version, I did not try to “copy” or “clone” the Timmy’s sauce; rather what I have developed is a method that you can use to achieve good results with chicken wings, and a good starter sauce that is neither Buffalo-style nor exactly like Timmy’s.
The Quartermaster Method Chicken Wing
Makes 24 Wings
24 chicken wing pieces, raw
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. good-quality barbecue sauce (preferably homemade, without artificial smoke flavoring)
2 tbsp. “Tapatio” or equivalent hot sauce
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. white vinegar, or to taste
1. Heat the vegetable oil in your deep fryer to 250 degrees.
2. While waiting for the oil to heat, melt the butter, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, honey, salt and vinegar in a small saucepan until warm and fully incorporated. Adjust seasoning and flavorings to taste. You can, for example, variate with: Siracha sauce, cider vinegar, ketchup, balsamic, bourbon, sweet chili sauce, ginger, garlic, etc., etc., etc.). Make a sauce you like. The only rule is that it you should make it sweeter, tangier, spicier, and saltier than you desire the actual wing, because the sauce will season and coat the unseasoned wings.
3. Once the oil reaches 250 degrees, divide the wings into two batches of twelve (or whatever your fryer will accommodate) and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove wings to a towel or piece of parchment and cook the second batch.
NOTE: You CAN use frozen wings, or partially frozen wings. Just add at least an additional minute or two cooking time.
4. Raise the heat on the fryer to 350 degrees and wait until the oil reaches temperature. Once the oil is ready, cook the wings, again in two batches, for 6-7 minutes, until the wings are golden brown and the skins are extremely crispy.
5. Remove the hot wings from the fryer and transfer to a large bowl. Add the sauce (you may not need the entire quantity of sauce, and it depends on your preference how much to use; I like the wings coated but not dripping with sauce) and toss the wings.
6. Transfer to a serving tray and enjoy with Ranch Dressing.
Also, Hidden Valley makes a lot of money selling little envelopes of seasonings for $2.00 that you mix with mayonnaise and buttermilk to make ranch dressing. There’s no need. You can make great ranch dressing out of the stuff in your spice cabinet.
Quartermaster Ranch Dressing
Makes one quart
16 ounces mayonnaise
16 ounces buttermilk
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried chervil
1/4 tsp. dried basil and/or oregano, to taste
1. Mix together.
3. Keeps for several weeks, but never lasts that long.