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June 4, 2008

Grand Theft Chicken


Mimicry, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. This is debatable by a matter of degrees. That is to say that the more you mimic, the more flattering it can be reasoned to be. So it must go that a thief pays his victim the highest compliment possible by stealing an idea and claiming it for his own.


Most people associate the hot chicken wing with the city of Buffalo, and some have even availed themselves of the history of how this important – some say critical – food item came to exist.


We will insult these appetizer historians, and further argue that someone who willingly studies something so frivolous should be shunned by polite society.


There are really just four ingredients to this act of theft – cayenne pepper sauce, butter, wings and drumsticks. You can argue that those ingredients actually number three. Well, then, remove the wings and add instead vegetable shortening.


The story starts with heating shortening in a deep cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven. Some might suggest vegetable oil, and they may have their points. But we’re after more than just fried chicken here, we’re also after a dark, lustrous appearance. Shortening gets us there.


Some suggest using breading. They believe that this absorbs flavors better. The veracity of this claim is highly dubious, and it skips a critical issue. Wings dipped in batter are universally soggier and a softer experience. It rings as true here as it seems to in every case – good people like unbreaded food, bad people like breaded.


Once the temperature of the shortening has reached 350 degrees, add the chicken. Cook about 10 minutes per side.


Here, it is appropriate to issue a warning. You will cook your chicken wings twice. We foreshadow this event by now preheating your oven to 400 degrees.


After you have cooked your wings on either side, remove them to a plate and napkin to drain off the grease. Allow them to rest on here for a bit, so that as much of the grease as possible can drain away to the paper.


Meanwhile, in a big bowl, combine cayenne pepper sauce and melted butter. You may also opt for another kind of hot sauce, made out of a pepper different from cayenne. You may really choose any kind of sauce you like, but you must make sure that it remains thick enough to coat and not slide off the chicken, but thin enough that it is not the consistency of pudding.


Once this has mixed, and once your cooked wings have drained off their grease, combine the two and thoroughly coat. Lay these out on a cooking sheet and slide into the oven. They will sit in there for about 10 minutes.


Remove from the oven and enjoy. If you have done things properly, the sauce will cling stubbornly to the meat and the mess to your hands will be minimal. It is zesty, which is perhaps how an act of theft should taste.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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