By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage.com Travel/Food Editor
The bets are on. I’m wagering this year’s Super Bowl won’t be a big surprise. I can’t predict if the Chiefs or Buccaneers will win, but I can place a sure bet that at any Super Bowl party chicken wings will be the winner on the table.
Chicken wings are the number one favorite food eaten on Super Bowl Sunday. In fact, according to the National Chicken Council official “Wing Report” an estimated 1.42 billion chicken wings will be downed. That’s enough wings to stretch 19 times form Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. And this year, the estimation is up 2%, which is no surprise to National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super.
“If you think about it, restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, so they didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic,” Super said. “ Wings travel well and hold up during delivery conditions. Plus, they align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic.”
As Super explained, chicken production remained steady throughout 2020. Noting as long as people are sitting around watching TV and maybe drinking a beer, wings will remain in the game as the number one fan favorite.
While chicken wings are to Super Bowl as turkey is to Thanksgiving, I wondered how football and wings come together. The answer was simple. Economics. Back in the day, mom and grandma cooked whole birds until preferences shifted in the 1980s when boneless, skinless breasts became the market leader. As a result, wings became an inexpensive byproduct, which savvy restaurateurs and bar keeps saw as an opportunity. About this same time sports bars began installing multiple TVs and satellite dishes. Football fans flocked sports bars and grills to watch the games with friends, which began to pair a pitcher of beer and the spicy hot wings. Beer, wings and the watching the game became the perfect matchup.
Just for the record, the original hot wing, known as Buffalo Hot Wings, were invented two decades earlier by Teressa Bellissio, owner of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, who made the first batch of hot wings in 1964. The recipe is simple: season wings with salt and pepper and deep-fried until the skin is brown and crisp. Toss in a concoction of hot sauce, butter and vinegar.
Today chicken wings are deep fried, air fried, grilled and braised. Some arrive sauced with a variety of sauces that can range from killer hot to sweet and mild. Others arrived naked, without sauce. Since I’m a traditionalist whose passion is food history I take my wings they were originally served at the Anchor Bar.
This Super Bowl The National Chicken Council offers a recipe for Chicken Wings with Grilled Ginger Coulis. Something different your home fans may like. Otherwise, you could chose a sauce that reflects this year’s teams sauce such as a KC barbecue sauce or a Floridian citrus based sweet dipping sauce. Either way, pick your team and make sure to have plenty of wings on hand.
Anchor Bar’s Buffalo Hot Wings – Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Hot Wings recipe
5 pounds chicken wings
salt and black pepper to taste
vegetable or corn oil for deep-frying
1 stick butter or margarine
2/3 cups Tabasco or Louisiana style hot sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
Rinse wings and dry on towel towels. Cut off the tip (the third joint) on each chicken wing and discard it. Cut each wing in half at the joint. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour enough oil into a deep fryer or large Dutch oven that will cover the chicken wings – about 2-3 inches deep. Heat over a medium high to high heat until oil reaches between 375 to 400 degrees. Add half the wings and cook until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Depending on the size of the wings this could take between 10 – 15 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Continue cooking remaining wings.To make sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir in hot sauce and vinegar. Place wings in a large mixing bowl. Toss wings until covered in sauce. Serve with Blue Cheese Dressing Serves 4 -6
Chicken Wings with Grilled Ginger Coulis – Recipe courtesy the National Chicken Council
4 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and cut at the joint
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon + ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 plums, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup sliced scallions
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Season wings with salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat grill to medium high. Place seasoned chicken wings and plum halves, cut side down, on grill. Reduce heat to medium and close grill cover. Grill plums for about 4 minutes on each side until soft but not falling apart. Remove plums to the bowl of a blender or food processor.
Increase heat on grill to medium high. Continue to cook wings for about 8-10 minutes. Turn and grill for 10-15 minutes. Wings should register 170º F when tested with an instant read thermometer. Remove to a serving platter.
While wings are grilling, to the plums add vinegar, hoisin sauce, ginger, soy, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and scallions. Process until smooth. Measure out ¼ cup plum coulis and reserve remaining sauce.
During the last 3-4 minutes of grilling, baste wings with ¼ cup plum coulis. Drizzle wings with remaining coulis or serve coulis in a bowl on the side for dipping. Sprinkle wings with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.