Friday, 22 August 2008

Buffalo Wings UK

Several weeks ago, I was mooching about the food webs and came across Elise's on Simply Recipes Buffalo Wings and it reminded me of when my Fiancee and I were visiting my cousin in Long Island. Of course, being New York, there was a plethora of local pizza places around and having no real pizza joints near us (yes, dominos has a bread product with cheese on top... but that's as good as it gets!) we had to indulge in a few pies.
So for one of the most memorable pizzas ever for us was one which had buffalo chicken as the topping, hot sauce under the cheese, and a pot of blue cheese dressing to dip into.... ohhh, i'm salivating just thinking about it!
Ok it's far from the sort of thing you'll find idolised on slice but it was seriously good.
anyway, back to the wings... after the NY visit, my SO is always on the lookout for a good portion of buffalo wings, and as usual, is always dissapointed, either the wings aren't too spicy or the dip isn't blue-cheesy enough. Thoroughly insipid fare.

So thumbing through the New England Cookbook, there's a version of BW's that the author has termed Wesport Wings, after her home in Connecticut, due to the fact that the wings are grilled (UKism for broilled) instead of deep fried. I waved the recipe at Liz and there was instant drooling and threats of violence if we didn't eat them right then (except it was midnight and we didn't have any of the requsite ingredients, so she had to wait.)

What else could I do? On the way home from work I grabbed a pack of wings from the supermarket, and tried to remember the rest of the ingerdients - I managed mayo, hot sauce, celery and blue cheese. I knew there was some roasted garlic deli mayo in the fridge which would probably work well, but not enough hot sauce. looking around I found a carribean style hot barbecue sauce which looked ideal, and not forgetting the blue cheese, got some danish blue, though there was a nice pack of stilton which would have made a nice regional twist.
I was stuck for the hot sauce since the actual sauce that comes recommended isn't available here (or I've never seen it anyway) so I went for Encona Caribbean chilli barbecue sauce. Since it was an unknown, I didn't know how hot it would be and since it had habanero and scotch bonnet as it's source of heat, I figured the medium would probably be about right and would probably have a nice level of smokeyness in it.

Other substitutions once I got home and compared the required ingredients with the contents of my cupboard were:
  • hot chili powder instead of cayenne pepper
  • cider vinegar instead of wine vinegar
  • no scallions (spring/green onions)
The Cheese and mayo went together in more of a dollop-y fashion (about 100g of the pack of cheese and an equal amount of mayo) followed by a good splash of the cider vinegar and a grind of pepper and mixed up with a fork to give a chunky consistency. I could've whizzed it in a blender, but I just wanted to keep it simple for the first go, plus I quite like it that way ;)

Once the dip was mixed and put in the fridge for a bit, I could get to the wings and the wing sauce. I used a mix of olive oil, hot chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and the encona sauce, but I wasn't quite right about the heat level so after a bit of digging around found a nicely aged bottle of Cholula (lots of hot sauces get hotter with age) so a good few drops went in to give it a bit more kick - We like things hot around here!

After cutting the wing tips off and seperating the 2 parts of the wing (drumlet and 2 bone part), the sauce and wings were all thrown in a large bowl and mixed up. Mmm really work the marinade into the wings, you really have to do this by hand and get proper messy.

By now all the smell are propagating around the house and Liz was getting really excited about having proper wings again since the last few pub interpretations have been a real let down. I mean one place even did an on the spot substution of blue cheese dip for some hot carbonara sauce.... I mean COME ON!

Under the grill for about 15-20 mins (these wings were really meaty so were under for more like 20) and the sauce went a nice dark brown with the skin going nice and crispy. I mixed up some extra sauce but without the oil and poured it all over the done wings.

So for the taste test.... Liz had already been raiding the fridge to get the dip, so I had to task her with cutting up the celery sticks to keep her occupied. ;)
Sure enough it didn't disappoint. The dip was spot on, but next time I'm sefinitely going to use a sharper stilton and the wing sauce was pretty damned amazing. Not full blown mega hot like they should be, but loads of fruity chili and smoke flavour.
The only problem was too much dip! Probably about twice as much as needed, and being cheese fiends, there was no way it was going unfinished. so next time probably make about 50g of cheese worth, unless you have more people to use it up!

so after all that, here's the reciepe, with modifications from the new england cookbook:

Broiled Westport Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

For the dip:
  • 50g blue cheese - danish blue or stilton
  • 2-3 tbsp of roasted garlic mayo or regular/low fat mayo with 1/2 clove crushed garlic
  • a splash (1 tbsp) of white wine or cider vinegar - enough to make a creamy consistancy
  • 1 chopped spring onion
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
crumble the cheese and mix with the rest of the ingredients by hand for a chunky texture, or in a blender for smooth. Then leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hr or up to 2 days.

For the wings:
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken wings (around 8 wings)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (encona chilli barbecue sauce used above)
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cholula pepper sauce (now available in Asda)
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili powder
With a heavy knife or cleaver, cut off the wing tips and discard, then separate the wing parts at the joint (optional) then place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Blend the sauce ingredients until all the oil is emulsified, and combine with wings in the bowl. Massage the sauce into the wings until wings are evenly covered. cover and stand for approx 25 mins, re-mixing part way through.
Place wings under a medium to high grill for 15-20 mins, until the skin is crisp and browned, and the juices of the thickest parts run clear.

Cut the celery into 2" long strips, and into 4 pieces lengthways.

Serve wings with the dip and celery, and if desired make some extra sauce without the olive oil, and pour over the wings before serving.


Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Another shiny new blog eh?

Right why are we here?
Well as a New England Ex-Pat (no i never played footbal!) living in the UK, having not been 'home' for a number of years, I'm really starting to miss some of the stuff I took for granted back in Mass.
Things like:
  • white and yellow niblet sweetcorn - it really is sweeter than the stuff we get here
  • Cape Cod (and thier chips!)
  • Boston baked beans (ok, I never actually liked them...)
  • Quincy Market/Fanieul Hall
  • Clam Chowder
  • picking lobsters from a live tank
  • fried clams
  • seafood cooked so you can still taste the main ingredient
  • I think you see where I'm coming from....
I'm a serious foodie and not getting this stuff is starting to become painful. So I ordered the New England Cookbook from Amazon, and the other day it arrived.
Thumbing through it with its stories of New England life and anecdotes of how various dishes came about made feel even more homesick - even though I haven't lived there since superbowl XX!
So my mission is to find as many sources for equivalent ingredients as possible, and start working my way through the some of the vast array of receipes contained, therein and maybe a few more besides