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Childhood memories of food and family.

One of those rare times, my dad would appear with one of those ubiquitous buckets.

That aroma of those eleven herbs and spices wafting through the cardboard and paper bag. There were no mashed potatoes, but there were fries.

Corn fresh from the can.

And rice.

Even rarer, my grandfather would make his fried chicken. Not quite the Colonel’s, but it wasn’t shake and bake either. He did have a tendency to over char the chicken, but always tasty. Like most kids, I always went after the drumsticks first.

I don’t go for the drumstick first anymore, but I’m always ready for fried chicken. Especially, homemade, spicy, buttermilk fried chicken.

When done right, I’ll even have a piece of the white meat.

Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken
(modified from Cook’s Illustrated – basically increased the black pepper, cayenne and used Habanero hotsauce)
Makes 8 pieces

1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Table Salt
Hot Sauce (Habanero)
4 tsp black pepper (originally 3 tsp)
2 tsp garlic powder (originally 1 tsp)
2 tsp paprika (originally 1 tsp)
2 tsp cayenne (originally 1/4 tsp)
3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts. (8 bone-in, skin-on thighs work well)
2 cups all purpose flour (unbleached)
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS
Brine the Chicken (1-24hours)
1. Mix 1 cup buttermilk, 1 1/4 tablespoon salt, hot sauce, 2 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne together in large bowl or large freezer bag. Add chicken and coat. Refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

Flour and cook the chicken
2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne together in large bowl. Add remaining ¼ cup buttermilk to flour mixture and mix with fingers until combined and small clumps form. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, pressing mixture onto pieces to form thick, even coating. Place dredged chicken on large plate, skin side up.

3. Heat oil in tall sided large 11-inch dutch oven medium-high heat to 375F degrees. Carefully place 4 chicken pieces in pan, skin side down, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Remove any fried bits. Repeat with other 4 pieces of chicken.

4. Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees for breasts and 175 for legs and thighs, 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pieces may cook faster than larger pieces. Remove pieces from oven as they reach -correct temperature.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.

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Sticky.

Gooey.

Hot.

Savoury.

Chicken wing memories.

I’m sure the first taste of a chicken wing came from the family wok. Braised and sticky with a copious pile of black beans. It was one of the classic dishes from my grandparents. A serving of wonderful soup, and that time-honoured bowl of rice, which, despite my best efforts as a kid, I could never seem to escape.

The second taste came marinated in soy and sugar, off the neighbour’s hibachi. Like Pavlov’s bell, the dipping fat hitting the heat filled your mouth with drool as it filled the block with smoke.

Fast forward a few years, the first time I cooked them for myself, the wings came out of a plastic bag full of I-have-no-idea-when-it-was-made spices and bread crumbs. While I don’t think I’ve touched a box of Shake n Bake in over a decade, it seems like the rest of the world has discovered chicken wings in that time. Typically, the home chicken wing tends to be greasy, fatty, and messy. Although some would argue that’s half the fun.

Easier and cleaner than the deep fryer, but not the impatient, we end up in the oven.

Spicy BBQ Oven Wings

(Taken from Mark Bittman)

Ingredients:
8 medium sized wings (or 16 wing pieces and/or drummettes)
Coarse Salt
Fresh cracked Black Pepper
Habanero Hot Sauce to taste
1/4 Cup BBQ Sauce (Cattleboyz, or homemade is good)
2 tbls Oil

Equipment:
Parchment Paper
Large Baking Sheet/Pan

This recipe is based on using convection. If you don’t have convection, increase the time for the 1st two bakings by 5minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F w/convection

1 In a medium bowl, toss wings with oil, salt and pepper (season lightly if doing Salt n Pepper wings)

2 Mix bbq sauce with desired amount of hot sauce to taste.

3 Place a large sheet of parchment paper in pan, making sure it overlaps the rim/edge to keep drippings in, spread wings out, flat side down. Bake 25 minutes on the middle or lower middle rack (not the bottom)

4 Remove pan, drain off fat, and flip the wings. Bake another 15min, remove and drain any remaining oil from pan, place wings in clean bowl.

5 Increase oven to 450F. Toss wings with BBQ sauce and spread out on pan flat side up and bake for 7-10min until crispy, slightly charred. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Variations:
Salt n Pepper:

Lightly season wings with salt before going into the oven. Instead of tossing in BBQ sauce, sprinkle wings with course salt and pepper.

Buffalo:
1/4 cup mild hot sauce (Franks, Durkee’s, Lousianna, etc) + a dash of tabasco or habanero – edit: I actually use Franks Xtra Hot
4 tbls unsalted butter, melted
2 tbls sherry vinegar
1 tbls minced garlic
1-2 tsp turbinado/raw sugar (optional)

Mix ingredients to make sauce, use in place of bbq sauce. This is enough sauce for about 16 full wings (32 winglets/drumettes). Recipe can be easily halved.

After tossing the wings in the hot sauce and placing back in the pan, spoon some sauce on top of the wings.