A Love Affair: Buffalo Wings

My love affair with buffalo wings began my freshman year of college. Off campus, there was a little spot called Cosmos Pizza, a popular hangout for students and townies. During my first weekend at school, a few of the girls from my floor invited me out for a bite to eat. We ended up at Cosmos, stuffed into a small booth, laughing and sharing first impressions. One of the girls ordered hot wings and promptly passed them around. Curious, I decided to give it a try. Until then, I had never had hot wings. I know, I know, how is that even possible?? Sure, I’d had fried wings and wings with Spanish rice, but that was pretty much the end of it. The moment I bit into that Cosmos wing, I couldn’t believe what I had been missing. The flavor was unbelievable, the heat just right. I had never even tasted hot sauce before! Was this what is was like?? I devoured the wing and eagerly grabbed another. There was no going back.

From that point on, I never passed up the opportunity for hot wings. Luckily, I got my fix at least once a week, courtesy of the dining hall. Thursdays were wing night at Brockway Dining Hall, with enough chicken wings to feed an army. My girlfriends always knew to call my room on Thursday evenings, just in case I had fallen asleep after class. Heaven forbid I should miss out on my wings! More than a decade later, I still love hot wings. There’s nothing like that first bite into crispy skin, the taste of the sauce on your tongue, the heat that starts to creep up on you, licking your fingers after devouring each wing. The sign of a successful wing fest are the sniffles you get from the cayenne sauce. Yeaaah. Make sure to keep a cold glass of milk nearby. It helps put out the fire party in your mouth.

No wing joint nearby? Make your own! They’re super easy.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

What You’ll Need:

3 lbs small chicken wings, drumette and wing separated, tips cut
1 cup cayenne pepper sauce (I LOVE Frank’s Original RedHot!)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Canola oil, for frying
blue cheese sauce, for dipping (Recommended: Marie’s Premium Super Blue Cheese

Using a deep fryer or large pot, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry the wings until golden and crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place wings on a wire rack over a sheet tray lined with paper towels.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the hot sauce and stir until well combined and heated through. Pour the sauce into a large bowl, then add the wings. Toss until well combined and the wings are completely coated. Serve with blue cheese sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

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Spicy Chicken Soup

I have a confession to make…I don’t like chicken soup. I find it dull and a bit depressing. There, I said it. Sometimes I feel a bit strange admitting I’m not a fan of chicken soup. People look at me strangely, give me that what’s wrong with you? glance. My husband, on the other hand, loves it. Homemade, from a can, in a restaurant, with noodles, with rice — he’ll eat them all. Recently, I decided to challenge myself and try to create a chicken soup we both could enjoy. Not an easy feat, I know. First, I knew that it had to be spicy. John’s family is from Mexico, and he definitely loves heat. I wanted to create layers of bold, rich flavor. Using ancho chiles, onions, fresh corn, tomatoes and shredded chicken thighs, I was able to do just that. One spoonful of this soup and I knew I created a keeper. When John tasted it, he thoroughly agreed. This soup is perfect for chilly days like the ones we have now, when you want to warm your body from the inside out.

Spicy Chicken Soup

Makes 6 to 8 servings

What You’ll Need:

3 lbs chicken thighs, poached, skin removed and shredded
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed
1 large onion, chopped
1 serrano pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ancho chiles, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, seeded, stemmed and roughly chopped
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1-28 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls cilantro, roughly chopped
2 limes
avocado, sliced
sour cream, for garnish

In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Saute the corn kernels for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, garlic and serrano pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and smoked paprika. Let saute for an additional 5 minutes.

In a small food processor, puree the ancho chile with some of the chicken stock until smooth. Add the ancho, tomatoes and remainder of the chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 10 minutes, allowing flavors to combine.

Using an immersion blender, puree about half of the soup. The goal is to thicken it just a bit, but still have some pieces of onion, tomato and corn throughout. Add the shredded chicken and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the juice of one lime and mix in half of the chopped cilantro. Ladle the soup into bowls. Place a few slices of avocado on top, then add a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with cilantro, then squeeze some fresh lime over everything. Enjoy!

Panko Covered Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Legs

Recently, a friend asked for ideas on what to do with panko, a type of breadcrumb used in Japanese cuisine. Panko has become increasingly popular throughout the years, working its way from specialty stores and into local supermarkets and grocery stores. It’s larger than traditional breadcrumbs and has a crispier, airier texture. After passing it several times in her neighborhood supermarket, my friend decided to buy it and give it a try. She called me a few days later, unable to come up with a creative way to use it. I promptly gave her the recipe for crispy, panko covered rosemary-garlic drumsticks. These juicy, crispy legs don’t disappoint.

The legs are my absolute favorite part of a chicken. Even as a little girl, I had a preference for dark meat. I find it to be so much juicier and flavorful than the rest of the chicken. White meat cooks a lot quicker and can dry out if overcooked by even a few minutes. I usually substitute chicken thighs or drumsticks for most recipes that call for shredded breast. Chicken legs are inexpensive, which means you can get a lot more for your money. In this economy, it’s always a great thing when you can stretch a buck. Drumsticks and thighs can range anywhere from $1.29 to $1.99 a pound, depending on where you shop. If you buy the entire quarter leg and cut them yourself, you can pay as little as 99 cents a pound. These definitely qualify as cheap eats!

Panko Covered Rosemary-Garlic Chicken Legs

Adapted from Tyler Florence

What You’ll Need:

10 chicken drumsticks
3 cups panko bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a baking sheet in the oven while you preheat it. In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic and rosemary with a bit of olive oil. In a shallow dish, mix the panko with the garlic, rosemary and olive oil mixture. Add salt and pepper, to taste. In a second shallow dish, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper.  Place the flour in a third dish and season with salt and pepper. Take each chicken leg and dredge in flour, then the egg wash, then coat in the panko mixture. Lay the chicken on a tray while you finish the rest.

Remember that empty baking sheet you placed in the oven? Well, remove it  and brush some olive oil onto the hot surface. Carefully place the chicken legs onto the tray, making sure they are not crowded together. The drumsticks will sizzle when they come into contact with the baking sheet. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve. Enjoy!

Green Chile Chicken Cheeseburgers

At times, I suffer from insatiable burger cravings. They’re often so overwhelming, I find it difficult to concentrate on little else. I’m a big burger lover – beef, chicken, turkey, veggie, I love them all. Melt some cheese on top and I’m over the moon. My boys are burger lovers, too. Logan loves traditional hamburgers, no cheese, topped with just bacon. He prefers his ketchup on the side, to be used as a dipping sauce. John loves all kinds of burgers, but whatever you do, DON’T put tomatoes on his! He absolutely hates them! They often get chucked onto my plate. He’s lucky, though, because I don’t mind one bit!

On this particular day, I craved a burger a bit more on the lean side, but with some heat behind it. I used some ground chicken thighs and created a delicious, fiery, green chile chicken cheeseburger. If you’re not familiar with green chile cheeseburgers, they’re extremely popular in the Southwest. Originally created in New Mexico, these delicious burgers are slowly making their way across the country. Green chiles are fire roasted, then used to top off grilled burgers that have been blanketed in cheddar cheese. Sounds sinful, doesn’t it? Since New Mexico green chiles are tough to find in New England, I used a blend of poblano and serrano chiles. If you can’t handle the heat, you can definitely opt to use some anaheim chiles. Just don’t leave out the cheese! I topped mine with Cabot Sharp Cheddar, because I absolutely love Cabot cheese. Yum!

Green Chile Chicken Cheeseburgers

A Butcher’s Daughter Original Recipe

What You’ll Need:

2 pounds ground chicken thighs
½ of an onion, finely grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup milk
Olive oil
5 poblano chiles
3 serrano chiles
8 hamburger buns
16 slices cheddar cheese (Recommended: Cabot Sharp Cheddar)

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill. If using a stovetop, preheat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat.

Rub a bit of olive oil onto the peppers, then place on the hot grill (these can also be broiled on a sheet pan). Grill the peppers until blackened, then transfer to a paper or thick plastic bag to steam. Once cool, peel the blackened skin off the chiles, remove the seeds, then dice into large chunks. Set aside.

Place ground chicken in a large bowl. Add the grated onion, salt, pepper, garlic, bread crumbs and milk. Using your hands, gently combine the ingredients. You don’t want to overwork the mixture! Form into 8 patties. These can be made ahead of time and placed in the fridge to firm up.

Fold a paper towel into square, then dip in olive oil. Using tongs to hold the paper towel, lightly wipe the grill. This will prevent the burgers from sticking. If using a skillet, use just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pan. Cook burgers until golden and cooked through thoroughly, about 8 minutes on each side. Top each patty with two slices of cheddar cheese a few minutes before they’re are done, allowing time for the cheese to melt. Place burgers on buns and top with green chiles. Enjoy!

Engagement Chicken

Glamour Magazine folklore tells the tale of a magical chicken, a chicken so delicious, so irresistible, men fall into a spell and begin to think of marriage. The story of this magical chicken dates back nearly 30 years, when then-Glamour fashion editor Kim Bonnell gave the recipe to her assistant, who made it for her boyfriend. A month later, they were engaged. The recipe got passed along to other women, three of which later became engaged. This magical recipe was promptly dubbed “Engagement Chicken.” In 2004, the recipe was published in Glamour Magazine. Since then, over 60 readers have become engaged after making this chicken for their loved one. Even Beth Ostrosky, Howard Stern’s wife, admits to making this dish not long before she and Howard became engaged.

Six years ago, I came across the Engagement Chicken recipe and decided to make it for my then-boyfriend. When I placed the roasted chicken on the table, my boyfriend gawked. Never before had I made such a beautiful chicken, roasted to a perfect golden brown. One bite and he was hooked. He marveled at the juiciness of the bird, the hint of lemon, the crispness of the skin. When he looked at me, I could see stars in his eyes. Three weeks later, my boyfriend proposed.

Seriously? No! Until recently, I had never heard of Engagement Chicken. I found the tale quite intriguing, though. I mean, a chicken so delicious that it made men think of marriage? It sounded extremely far fetched. Regardless, I decided to give it a try. For years, I had been searching for the “perfect” roast chicken recipe. You know, the kind of recipe you always go back to, because it’s simple yet delicious. Well, my search is over. This is the perfect roast chicken recipe.

On a side note, I apologize for the not-so-good photo of this amazingly delicious chicken! It didn’t occur to me until after I carved the chicken that I should have taken a picture of it breast-side up!

Engagement Chicken

Tweaked from Glamour Magazine

What You’ll Need:

1 (3 to 4 lb) chicken
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh lemon juice, plus 2 additional lemons, cut into quarters
10 cloves garlic, smashed
2 onions, thickly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
Extra Virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash the chicken inside and out with cold water, then let drain for about 2 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken, breast side down, in a medium roasting pan. Pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, inside and out. Place the smashed garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken, along with six of the lemon quarters. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the sliced onions and remaining lemon quarters around the chicken in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the wine and chicken stock into the bottom of the pan.

Put the chicken in the oven, lower the temperature to 375 degrees, and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear. If the skin begins to darken too much, tent lightly with aluminum foil while roasting. Once done, remove the chicken and place on a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Place a small saucepan on the stove, over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of the chicken juices, then sprinkle in the flour. Stir constantly, until it thickens. Add the remaining juices from the roasting pan, including the onions. Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce reduces. Carve the chicken and serve with the warm sauce and onions. Wait for a proposal.