Betcha Can’t: Buffalo Chicken Wings
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Food is often an important part of special events. We have cake on our birthdays and wedding days, pie on Thanksgiving and chocolate anything on Valentine’s day.
And on Superbowl Sunday…we have Buffalo wings. Lots of Buffalo wings…
Even for the non-football fan among us, a Superbowl party is often a fun get-together. Mainly because of the food (and, let’s face it, the commercials). It’s the one day a year that we can justify making a meal out of nachos, beer…and chicken wings.
I happen to be a huge football fan, so I love a good Superbowl party (even when my team isn’t in it, which (incidentally) is the case this year). I love bringing a dish to share…particularly if everyone is fooled by the fact that it’s a healthier version than the traditional recipe. There was one year I made a batch of low-fat peanut butter fudge brownies. This was when I was first learning how to cook healthier and it was back in the day when baby food prunes were suggested as a healthier alternative to using oils and other fats in recipes.
I don’t recall how much I actually used in the recipe. Let’s just say that a few party-goers had more than a beer hangover to deal with the next day….if you know what I mean…
That’s what is fun about the learning process…you figure out what works and what should probably be left to the professionals. You know, like baby food prunes for example.
OK, so back to the slimmed-down Buffalo chicken wings. If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know I love a good challenge. So, when I was recently craving chicken wings, I decided that there must be a healthier way to make them that would be completely and totally believable…even for the most seasoned wings fan. After a couple of experiments, I came up with these. Having tested them on friends during the football playoffs, I think these are as ready for the big time as the Seahawks and Broncos are (for the uninitiated, they are the teams playing in the 2014 Superbowl).
So, here’s what I did. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs (using breast will make them even lighter in fat & calories, but they won’t be as moist and will have less of a wing-feel and flavor to them). I cut them in to wing-sized pieces and dredged them in a blend of white rice flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper (which keeps them gluten free). I then “fried” them in a non-stick pan with a little oil and finished them off in the oven. The result is a crispy exterior (perfect for all of the that yummy Buffalo sauce to stick to) and a moist very wingy interior. And hey, no bones!
A couple of tips for making these. First, freeze the thighs for about an hour or so prior to cutting them…this makes the cutting part much easier. Second, when you toss them in the Buffalo sauce, don’t treat them like a linebacker…be gentle to keep the coating from coming off. You’ll probably want to double or triple this recipe (I was testing them on just a couple of people, so I didn’t want a bunch of left overs). Lastly, don’t toss them in the sauce until you’re ready to serve them…this will ensure they still have a little crunch to them.
As for the sauce, I made it lighter by using way less butter than the traditional recipe calls for. Simply, right?
How many days until the Superbowl???
Betcha Can’t: Buffalo Chicken Wings
servings: 2-3 as an appetizer | time: about 1.5 hours (if following the freezing step)
4 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup white rice flour
2 TBSP. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 TBSP. grapeseed oil
1/3 cup hot sauce (Frank’s is the traditional choice)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 TBSP. butter, melted
Low-fat blue cheese dressing
Celery and carrot sticks for serving on the side
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a baking rack in a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. This is an important step–you want to make sure the chicken is not layered directly on the pan, this helps them to get really crispy
Have a can of non-stick cooking spray handy
1. Place the chicken thighs on a plate in a single layer. Cover and freeze for about an hour
2. Remove the chicken from the freezer and cut into wing-sized portions (depending on the size of the wings, you should get about 3-4 per thigh). Set aside
3. Place the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a shallow dish (such as a pie plate). Blend with a fork to combine
4. Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and toss to coat evenly
5. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium (non-stick is important here…it’s what allows you to use much less oil in the recipe)
6. Place the chicken pieces in the heated pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes. Just before turning them over, spray them with the non-stick cooking spray
7. Turn and allow to cook on the second side for another 3-4 minutes, making sure they are just starting to brown and get crispy
8. Place the wings on the prepared pan, spray them with non-stick cooking spray and place in the oven for 15 minutes. In the meantime, make the Buffalo sauce
9. Place the hot sauce, garlic powder and melted butter in a large bowl, whisk to combine (you might want to pop the hot sauce mixture into the microwave for 30 seconds just before tossing with the wings)
10. Place the hot chicken wings in the sauce and, using a large spoon, toss gently to coat. Serve with blue cheese dressing and carrot & celery sticks
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