Sunday, September 1, 2013

Spicy Chicken Wings

My husband and I love to go camping. On our latest excursion, we visited a small campground where my husband has been camping since he was a small child. This campground is in a really small town where there is nothing to do but sit beside the lake and enjoy the nature surrounding you. However, there is a local dive where the chicken is as legendary and the colonel in Kentucky.
This restaurant is really nothing more than a small shack on a back road. Honestly, if I had not been with my husband and his parents the first time I went there, I would not have gone in. There are paper menus on the wall, on-again-off-again air conditioning, and very limited hours of operation. Despite all these seemingly negative aspects, the line wraps around the building on Saturday nights. So why do people come to a place where the bread consists of a hamburger bun, the only option to order is chicken, and the drinks come in a jug to share with the table?
Well, the answer is very simple. This local dive is an institution. They have been featured on several television shows, in national periodicals, and, despite the lack of interior decor, the chicken is one-of-a-kind. The first time I visited, we tried to determine how the chicken was cooked. Was it roasted and then fried? Smoked and then dipped? What was the secret? The meat was so tender, the exterior so crisp, yet it dripped with a spicy vinegar sauce. What was this? 
After several trips to this local gem, we finally figured it out. Due to a desire to have this delicacy at home, we developed this recipe for chicken wings. The light coating provides a crisp crust without the normal fried chicken batter. The sauce is tangy yet spicy and absorbs into the meat just perfectly. The double frying allows the meat to cook and the crust to become brown without burning. These might just be the perfect chicken wings.
4 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Salt
1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
16 Chicken Wing Pieces
1/4 Cup Minced Onion
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
4 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1. Place the chicken wing pieces in a large zipper bag. Place the marinade ingredients in the bag. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the meat. Place the bag inside a large bowl. Allow to marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Heat all of the ingredients for the sauce in a saucepan over Medium-High heat. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Cover and remove from heat.
3. Twenty minutes before frying, remove the wings from the refrigerator.
4. While the wings are coming to temperature, heat a large deep fryer to 350 degrees.
5. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, corn starch, salt, peppers and garlic powder. Dredge each wing piece through the flour mixture, shaking off excess.
6. Cook the wings in 350 degree oil for 10 minutes. Remove from the oil.
7. Raise the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees. Return the wings to the fryer for an additional 5 minutes.
8. Use a pair of kitchen tongs to dip the fried wings in the warm sauce. Allow each wing about 5 seconds in the sauce to absorb the flavor but not become soggy.
9. Store the remaining sauce in a jar with a tight fitting lid for use with pulled pork or chicken.

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