I am always staggered to hear how many chicken wings are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. Last year it was 1.3 billion! I really do understand the allure. In the pantheon of things we love to eat, the Chicken Wing is high on ourlist. Crispy, crunchy and easy as all get out to make, I could likely put these on our dinner menu once a week, Super Bowl or no Super Bowl. As a wing lover, I’ve tried all kinds of recipes for these delicious little finger-licking goodies and almost without fail, I love the results. But in terms of simplicity, nothing comes close to this take on wings: 10 minutes tops in prep and 45 minutes undisturbed in a hot oven and that’s it. The recipe was brought to my attention by Tyler Florence in his “Tyler Florence Family Meal” (Rodale 2010). Tyler subheads this book “Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better”. And I couldn’t agree more. Tyler attributes the recipe to The Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco (558 Sacramento St. Tel: 415 772 9060). And like every chicken wing recipe in America, it owes at least something to the ubiquitous Buffalo Wing. In fact, every recipe for Chicken Wings pays some homage to the original because if it hadn’t been for Buffalo, we might never have tasted wings at all.
The only problem the Buffalo wing faced in our house is that Andrew is no fan of the essential blue cheese dipping sauce that’s as integral to the Buffalo wing as the carrot and celery sticks no great wing is served without. But once I craved these Salt and Pepper Wings, I was determined to serve them with something Andrew would be happy with. Lo and behold, there’s a world of blue cheese haters out there just longing to eat wings with a dipping sauce of some other kind of cheese. There’s actually a website called CheeseRank.com that headlined a section called “5 Cheese Dips for Buffalo Wings that are NOT Blue Cheese”. It was here that I found the suggestion to substitute Reggiano Parmigiano for the blue. The author claimed “Parm and its relatives pack enough tangy, unami flavor to stand up to the spicy, garlicky goodness of any wing.” So off I went and put together a recipe for the dressing that follows. It was superb, if I say so myself. Tangy, creamy with a little texture and a wallop of cheese flavor. Now if you don’t have any Parm on hand, CheeseRank.com suggested Cheddar, Goat Cheese, Feta and Triple Crème. Take your pick but I’d prefer the Parmigiano. Here’s the recipe for both wings and dip.
Recipe for Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Serves 4-6 Prep Time: Under 10 mins. Cooking time 45 mins.
Tyler made his recipe with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper. I used both of those but also added several grinds from Trader Joe’s Garlic Salt Grinder which is a great mixture of Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic, Onion and Parsley.
For the Chicken:
3 pounds chicken wings, left whole OR cut,
tips discarded and wing and drummette separated (as shown)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trader Joe’s Garlic Salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Toss chicken wings with olive oil and season liberally with salt, pepper and . Spread wings on aluminum foil covered baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, or until they are crispy and golden brown.
Recipe for Parmesan Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese
Kosher Salt to taste.
In the bowl of a food processor, grate the cheese. Then add the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and pepper and process until smooth. Taste and then add salt. Season the mixture well.