My first introduction to chicken wings was the awful BBQ ones that come with budget take-away pizzas. The poor quality meat with a synthetic and sickly BBQ sauce put me off big time. Then Meat Liquor came along with their addictively tangy and ridiculously messy Buffalo wings. Finger food at its best.
Meat Liquor is understandably popular. There aren’t many places in London that serve quality American fast food and they are the best. Their no-booking policy and cult following means that unless you go at the right time the queues are boringly long. Much as I love a grease-fest, I can’t always be arsed to queue 45 minutes. Even if they are that good.
So, after a week of fantasizing about their hot wings I finally made them myself. A quick Google showed multiple variations on the classic but the simplest recipe kept cropping up and felt the most authentic. I was initially a bit scared of deep-frying but it turned out to be easy. This is a no frills recipe and better for it, though I had a heart attack just looking at the amount of butter…
These wings are fabulous. They are a near-perfect replica of Meat Liquor’s version and totally satisfied my craving. The blue cheese dip is unctuously pungent and rich, contrasting with the crisp crunch of peppery celery and sweet carrot batons. Frank’s Hot Sauce is not very spicy, especially for a chili-head, but gives a subtle vinegar warmth augmented by a few generous dashes of Jamaican Hot Sauce. And everything tastes better with butter.
Hot Wings - serves 2 generously or 3 to 4 as a starter
1.5 Kg of Chicken wings (Chop of the wing tips and cut between the wing bit and the bit that looks like a mini drumstick)
1 L of Oil for frying (I used sunflower)
1 bottle of Franks Original Hot Sauce
230 g of salted butter
Jamaican hot sauce or Tabasco to taste
Blue Cheese Dip
50 g Danish blue or other strong blue cheese, crumbled
Heaped tablespoon of buttermilk
Tablespoon of mayonnaise
Heaped table spoon of sour cream
1 Crushed clove of garlic
tablespoon white wine vinegar
1) Thoroughly mix all of the dip ingredients together and add more cheese if necessary. Leave to one side.
2) Preheat oven to 80 degrees celcius. Heat the entire bottle of oil in a heavy based large saucepan (I used a wok) over a medium to high heat. When it is shimmering and little bubbles are visible (about 10 minutes) add the chicken carefully using metal tongs or a slotted metal spoon. It will look volcanic, don’t be scared. You may need to cook the chicken in two batches.
3) Make sure the chicken doesn’t stick to the bottom and turn occasionally. It will take about 10 minutes to cook – when they are golden remove and put in oven to keep warm while you put in the second batch of chicken. Don’t bother with this if you can fit them all in.
4) While the chicken is frying, melt the butter in another pan and add the entire bottle of Franks hot sauce, mix well (don’t worry if it looks like its curdling). Add the hotter hot sauce to taste.
5) Mix the cooked chicken wings in the butter and hot sauce mixture and serve with the blue cheese dip and some carrot and celery batons.
Don’t do it everyday, but once in a while. Go wild.