Just Wing It

When I was a kid, my grandmother – who lived in an apartment above my parents’ bakery – made a big noon meal for us every Saturday. And every Saturday it was the same thing – fried chicken. None of us complained, of course, because, well, FRIED CHICKEN.

But like all of those who grew up during the Great Depression, Grammie used every single part of the chicken. She would, of course, fry up the livers and gizzards. (We would fight over the livers and leave the gizzards for Dad and Grandpa.) She would cut up the chicken so that each breast included part of the back. And when she fried the chicken, she included every piece, including the neck.

As we would go around the table and take our pieces of chicken, Grammie would always take the neck. I really like it, she would tell us. We believed her, of course, because she was Grammie.

In hindsight, I reckon she took the neck because she wanted to leave the other pieces for the rest of us. There is little meat on the neck, as I’m sure you know. Well, actually you might not know because, like most of us, you either throw the neck away or boil it for soup stock. You have never tried to nibble a neck.

I have, because I was curious  to see why Grammie liked the neck. I repeat, there is little meat on the neck. And yet, if you nibble carefully enough, you get some a bit of meat that is quite tasty. Why? Because meat next to a bone, whether it is chicken or pork or beef or lamb, is the tastiest.

As for me, my favorite part of the chicken then was the wing. I could usually claim a couple of them because Grammie would fry a couple of chickens. I liked to nibble away at both ends of the wings, but I always preferred the part that isn’t the little drumette.

Things haven’t changed a whole lot, except that now, wings are an essential part of American culture, thanks to a little bar in Buffalo, NY. You know, buffalo wings? By the way, a few years back when Dave and Jll and the family took their sabbatical trip during which they drove in an RV around the US states east of the Mississippi, they stopped at the little bar in Buffalo, NY and tried the wings. Dave’s takeaway? They taste like every other chicken wing in the United States.

Anyhoo, I still love me some chicken wings. But here’s the funny thing: my preferred cooking method is either grilling or roasting in the oven for an hour. When they have finished cooking, I leave mine plain and dip Bill’s in a sauce made from Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter. And whether or not I grill them or bake them, I cut off the little useless piece but otherwise leave well enough alone.

I recently found a recipe on Pinterest in which the contributor claimed that he had the best recipe for baked chicken wings. His trick, he claimed, resulted in crispier wings than you would ever achieve by frying. Crispy, crispy, crispy, he bragged.

And so I decided to give them a try. I’ve always thought mine were delicious, but it was on Pinterest. Like Wikipedia, Pinterest is always right.

His trick? You parboil the chicken wings before you bake them. This, he claimed, took out all of the fat, leaving you with a crispy result.

What it left me with, unfortunately, was a soggy, tasteless chicken wing. I’m pretty sure he put it on Pinterest just to see how many people he could fool.

As my son Court said, “In the history of the universe, what food has ever been improved by removing the fat?”

So the other night, I made chicken wings using my original process, and they were delicious…..


Salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and bake at 425 for an hour – 30 minutes each side.

I don’t think I will post my recipe on Pinterest.

United in Orange

United in orange….that’s the apparent catch phrase encompassing all things Broncos in Colorado these days preceding the AFC Conference Championship game tomorrow.

And while I love being here in Arizona during this really nice winter weather, I am sad that I’m missing all of the Broncomania taking place over our state this week. Thank you Peyton, and all of your cohorts who clearly know what “Omaha Omaha” means. We all speculate. In fact, Peyton gave a very funny interview at which he was asked what Omaha Omaha means. With a completely straight face, he gave a roundabout answer that basically said, “Are you serious? Do you really think I’m going to tell you what it means?” Click the link to see the interview.

For my part, we both have Denver Bronco shirts that we will wear on Sunday, we have been happily displaying our little Bronco garden flag in our front yard, and, if possible, we will find a way to fly our great big Bronco flag on Sunday.

I’ve been trying to think about things I can serve to whomever shows up at our front door to watch the game with us. It must be orange and blue. That’s a given.

Here’s a couple of ideas:

Queso Dip with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (from CHOW.com)

4 c. grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 T. cornstarch
¼ c. milk
1 c. minced onion
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles

Place cheeses in a large bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch, and toss to coat.Transfer cheese mixture to a large saucepan and add milk. Set over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth and melted, about 10-15 minutes.

Stir in onion and chilies with reserved juices until well combined. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips and various raw veggies.

Grilled Chicken Wings (from Allrecipes.com)

2-1/2 lbs. chicken wings
Salt and pepper
2/3 c. Frank’s Hot Pepper Sauce
1/3 c. melted butter
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Season chicken wings. Grill the chicken wings over medium heat for about 10 minutes on each side. In the meantime, melt the butter and mix with hot sauce and cayenne pepper. Dip wings in the sauce and serve with celery and blue cheese dip.

Blue Margarita (from About.com)

1-1/2 oz. tequila
1 oz. blue curacao
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Orange slice for garnish
Salt for rimming

Pour all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a margarita glass rimmed with salt. Garnish with an orange slice.

In the meantime, Bill and I (and anyone else watching the game on Sunday with us) will be filled with hope. Go Broncos. Bill and I are United in Orange even though we’re 900 miles away.