Ain’t No Thing but a Chicken Wing

main picture smallersThere is not a college town, sporting event, or late-night outing that isn’t associated with chicken wings. Due to its popularity at football games, chicken wings have come to be the costliest portion of a chicken.

Until the 1960s, however, the chicken wing was simply a piece of trash. In 1964, Frank and Teressa Bellissimo of Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, invented a free midnight snack for their regular customers. An accidental delivery of chicken wings was used to create this new form of bar food. Teressa cut the wings in half to obtain flats and drumsticks, and deep-fried each piece without batter. The wings were smothered with hot sauce, or Buffalo sauce, and offered with a side of celery and blue cheese (1).

This is how the Buffalo chicken wing was born!

The constituents of a full chicken wing amazingly resemble those of the human arm. The wing contains a few tiny bones that make up a hand, two bones in its forearm (like the ulna and radius), and a heftier, humerus-like bone in the upper arm. The hand also has a small projection at the end of the wing that’s called the alula, which looks like a human thumb.

The skin of the wing is easy to take away, but it is fixed onto the forearm and it intersects with the muscles. The upper arm has “biceps” and “triceps” with tendons that attach to the forearm. The forearm has muscles and tendons that run into the hand, which allows the chicken to carry out voluntary motion (2).

Have you ever touched a raw chicken wing’s skin? The skin can be tough and slimy, because it is mainly composed of fat. It is also sticky, which means that tiny hairs, or feathers, can remain on the skin after processing and packaging.

These hairs can be a nuisance, but they’re edible. You can remove them with tweezers or scrub the wing with a paper towel if necessary. Many of the hairs will burn off during cooking.

There are currently thousands of variations of chicken wings available throughout the world.  Korean chicken wings are flavored with Gochujang (Korean chili paste), sesame, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey. The Mexican culture bakes their chicken wings in tortilla chips flavored with cumin, chilli, cayenne, and oregano (3).

My version of chicken wings will be baked with a Maple BBQ marinade.

A side of sweet potato fries also comes with this wing recipe. Here’s how to make them:


For the Maple BBQ Marinade: ½ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup reduced sodium soy sauce, ½ cup ketchup, ½ cup sparkling water, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 3 tbsp chopped scallions, 10 raw chicken wings

Make sure to check the ingredients of the ketchup. Many of the major companies incorporate high fructose corn syrup into their products. The flavor will be the same, but the quality of the ketchup brands will vary. Make sure to purchase a ketchup that has tomatoes, vinegar, and spices. Skip the excess sugar.

For the Sweet Potato Fries: 3 small sweet potatoes, 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp ground black pepper, sprinkle of garlic powder, sprinkle of sea salt (to taste)


Place the raw chicken into a glass or meat-only mixing bowl or pan.

Mix the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and half of the reduced sodium soy sauce.

Mix the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and half of the reduced sodium soy sauce.

Combine the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and half of the reduced sodium soy sauce into a liquid measuring cup. Pour the mixture over the chicken.

Mix the remaining soy sauce with the ketchup in the same liquid measuring cup. Pour this mixture onto the chicken.

Put ½ cup of sparkling water into the same measuring cup, and mix well. This will get the remaining contents on the side of the measuring cup into the marinade. Pour the contents in the measuring cup over the chicken.

Chicken with Maple BBQ marinade.

Chicken with Maple BBQ marinade.

Sprinkle the spices and chopped scallions over the chicken.

Tightly seal the chicken wings with plastic wrap. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

Wrap the marinated chicken tightly.

Wrap the marinated chicken tightly.

Flip over the chicken wings after 4 hours to ensure that the marinade completely soaks all sides of the chicken wings.

About one hour before you plan to cook the chicken, scrub the sweet potatoes and cut them into fries.

Coated fries.

Coated sweet potato fries before baking.

Spread the fries onto a baking sheet. Coat them with olive oil, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chicken wings before baking.

Chicken wings before baking.

Remove the chicken wings from the refrigerator and place them onto a separate baking sheet.

Put all of the items into the oven. Remove the fries after 30 minutes. Set them aside to cool.

Flip the chicken wings over after you remove the fries. Place them back into the oven for about 20 more minutes. The total baking time for the chicken wings should be approximately 50 minutes.

Some of the marinade will stick to the baking sheet. This is normal, and can be easily removed if the pan is soaked in soap and hot water for a few minutes.

Finished chicken wings.

Finished chicken wings.

Place all items on a plate with your favorite dipping sauce. I chose Dijon mustard to complement the sweetness of the marinade.

Maple BBQ chicken wings with a side of sweet potato fries and Dijon mustard.

Maple BBQ chicken wings with a side of sweet potato fries and Dijon mustard.

Nutrition facts for 2 chicken wings with a side of sweet potato fries based on the USDA Nutrient Database.

Nutrition facts for 2 chicken wings with a side of sweet potato fries based on the USDA Nutrient Database.

Sources:

1. Stromberg, Joseph. “A Brief History of the Buffalo Chicken Wing.” Smithsonian.com. Accessed 23 April 2014. Available at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/a-brief-history-of-the-buffalo-chicken-wing-10260772/?no-ist

2. “How to Dissect a Chicken Wing.” Krieger Science. Accessed 26 April 2014. Available at http://kriegerscience.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/how-to-dissect-a-chicken-wing/

3. Mathes, Erik. “Savory chicken wings around the world.” USA Today. Accessed 26 April 2014. Available at http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2014/04/26/buffalo-chicken-hot-wings/8163763/

© The Baking Tour Guide

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