Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hot Wings with Herby Couscous & Blue Cheese Dip

I have had some amazing Buffalo wings in my time. MeatLiqour’s in particular are, in my opinion, fantastic and what I wanted was to recreate them as far as possible.

Buffalo Wings are so-named as they actually originated in a bar called the Anchor Bar, in Buffalo New York. Owned by Frank and Teressa Bellissimo, Teresa apparently invented the dish back in 1964. The original wings are fried, then tossed in a combination of melted margarine and Frank’s hot sauce.

I know that I didn’t want to deep fry. Or use margarine. But butter would work instead of marg and Frank’s is easy to get hold of so I was set to go. Frank’s is good to use as it isn’t too hot but if really want your wings extra spicy you could use tabasco and still get that vinegar tang or just add some cayenne to the Frank’s as you make the sauce.

So I chose to bake rather than fry (frankly there needed to be some concession to healthiness after all that butter) and similarly when I made my blue cheese sauce I used 0% yoghurt rather than sour cream. As I’ve baked, not fried, I’m calling these hot wings lest I offend any purists...

Traditionally these wings would be served with celery sticks to dip in the blue cheese to temper the spiciness of the wings but here I’ve made it more of a meal by having alongside the couscous and the blue cheese sauce on the side for dunking (extra sacrilege!).

Buffalo-style Hot Wings
serves 4

10-12 whole chicken wings (about 1kg)
2 tablespoons rapeseed or groundnut oil
sea salt and black pepper
For the sauce
120ml Frank’s Hot Sauce
100 g unsalted butter
pinch of salt
cayenne pepper or tabasco to taste (optional - if you want the wings spicier)

Prepare the wings which are traditionally cut into three pieces - do this by cutting through the joints with a very sharp heavy knife or cleaver. If you turn the wings over with the underside of the wings facing up you should be able to see the joints and then cut through them rather than any bone. You can discard the wing tips or, and a much better idea, store them in the freezer to make chicken stock at a later date.

Rinse the wings and pat them dry with kitchen roll and then toss them together in a large bowl with the oil and a good grind of salt and pepper.

Meanwhile slowly melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and then add the hot sauce, whisking well to combine. As soon as the butter is melted and the sauce combined take off the heat - you don’t want the butter to separate.

Taste and if necessary season with salt and add cayenne or tabasco if you want it spicier.

Toss the wings with about ¼ of the sauce, cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour or longer.

When you are ready to cook the wings preheat the oven to 200C.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with a little oil using a piece of kitchen roll or pastry brush to make sure that the sheet is evenly coated.

Then arrange the wing pieces skin-side-up so that they are fairly closely packed but not overcrowded.

Cook for 30 minutes until golden brown and then using a pair of tongs turn the wings over and return to the oven to cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp.

Gently reheat the Buffalo sauce while you wait for the wings to finish.

When the wings are cooked, pour the Buffalo sauce into a bowl and add the wings (in batches if necessary) to coat them well in the sauce.

Blue Cheese Sauce

85g blue cheese, crumbled
6 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp 0% yoghurt
½ lemon, juice of
½ tbsp white vinegar
sea salt & black pepper

Put the blue cheese in a bowl and mash with a fork until a paste forms. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until you have a smooth sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Herby Couscous
serves 2

75g couscous
handful of mint, roughly chopped
handful of parsley, roughly chopped
½ lemon, juice of
olive oil

Pour the lemon juice
 over the couscous in a bowl then add just enough boiling water just to cover.

Cover the bowl with clingfilm and set aside for 10 minutes.

Fluff the couscous and stir through the herbs and a splash or two of olive oil. Season to taste and serve with the wings and blue cheese sauce on the side.

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