RINGS AND WINGS


A SONG OF PEPPERS AND A SEA OF RINGS
WITH SUPER BOWLS AND CHICKEN WINGS

January rides in on icy rains and fog drenched midnights. January is a continuation of the parties, of giant meals and bottomless feasts of Football snacks and family meals. Planning is the key to easy times. Preparation is your best friend. “Thanks” and “More” is the response we always look for… so to the pepper patch and onion fields we go, to the seafood section and chix wing ranch. That’s right, baskets of chicken wings and shrimp rings. From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s it seems like every day is a holiday so avoiding repetition for the table is not as easy as it seems.
There are libraries full of recipes for Southern, Northern, Midwest, Rockies and West Coast winter easy foods. We have black eyed pea salsa, mustard greens and brussel sprout kimchee, Greek yogurt and peach milkshakes, pecan rice cooked with hog jowl bacon, pork ribs smoked with garam masala, lime and cayenne popcorn (in a pop corn popper or iron pot and never microwave), black bean and roasted pepper brushetta, Indian red chili spiced chocolate cookies, and the list goes on of all the wonderful worldly & creative bowls of holiday foods.
We are making jalapenos wings and seafood batter onion rings. Sometimes winter needs spicy and easy. How do we make the ordinary extraordinary? How do we resist the wings in a bag? We make the best that we can, that’s how. How do we move away from the elegance of a perfect fried onion ring without ruining the integrity of onion and the sea? By careful attention to detail, that’s how. The wings are baked and of course the rings are fried.

Normally, there is a recipe for every part of a dish but in favor to making things a bit easier we’ll skip blackening seasoning and tempura batter recipes. I apologize for the omission, yet I also trust you have favorites of both.
PICKLES, SAUCES AND DIPS

Sweet And Sour Pickled Peppers

These great Southern style pickles are perfect for adding to the bowls of rings and wings. The peppers used are fresh.
This recipe is more than you will need here but they are pickles and they will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Peppers
4 ounces banana peppers, cut in rings
2 ounces jalapeno peppers, cut in rings
1 ounce serrano peppers, cut in rings (or any favorite pepper)

Make sure you slice these as thinly as possible. You can use any kind of
fresh pepper.
Blanch the peppers in 1 quart of water. Cook 3 minutes. Drain. Put the peppers into the containers you will be using for the final mix. Set aside. I use mason jars or Ziploc plastic containers.

Pickle Juice
2 ounces yellow onion, minced
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (yep, with the flat side of a knife)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Bring Pickle Juice to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Pour over the peppers, cover and seal tight. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature. Put into refrigerator and chill minimum 10 hours.

SPICY KETCHUP
1 cup Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce (Thai bird peppers, sugar, vinegar)
1 teaspoon Cholula Hot Sauce or Tabasco Jalapeno Sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼th teaspoon salt

Combine and refrigerate overnight. It gets better over time.
LIME MUSTARD
1/2 cup Coleman’s Dry Mustard
½ teaspoon Curry powder
1 cup cold water
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients.
1 egg, extra large
Stir into the mix.
Heat in small pan on low heat. Stir constantly. If necessary use a double boiler to avoid lumping or scalding. Cook for five minutes. Remove and store in plastic container. Refrigerate overnight. This will keep for a month.
BLEU CHEESE DIP
4 ounces bleu cheese crumbles or gorgonzola
2 ounces sour cream
3 ounces mayonnaise
6 ounces buttermilk
1 teaspoon truffle salt or truffle oil
¼ teaspoon each oregano and basil, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, smashed and minced
2 stalks green onions, chopped
1 stalk celery with leaves, minced
Combine and refrigerate overnight. This will keep for a couple of weeks.

SHRIMP FRIED ONION RINGS

If you have calamari, crab meat or crawfish tails add small amounts to the batter for more complex flavors. We are using only shrimp for this recipe. Add beer for the liquid to the tempura when you are ready to fry the rings. Count on at least seven onion rings per person. If no beer then use carbonated/soda water.
A mix of peanut and corn oil will give you perfect balance. Peanut is high in cholesterol, but hey, it is the end of the party holiday season and why not use ingredients of the highest quality. If you don’t want to use peanut oil then use only corn oil. Vegetable oil blends are not so good for the taste or the health. Olive oil cannot handle the sustained high heat (fire hazard).
BATTER
1 1/2 cups flour
½ cup cornstarch
6 ounces shrimp, coarse ground/chopped in food processor
1 tablespoon blacken seasoning, Bay or Tony Chechere.
Add to tempura batter. Stir.
GLUTEN FREE BATTER (preferred for flavor)
Gluten free is very easy once you get used to it and when you have the various flours in your kitchen. I prefer the gluten free flavor and texture over the flour based for this recipe. Remember than gluten intolerance is generally confined to the gluten in wheat, barley and malt. Not all glutens are alike.
½ cup potato starch
1 tablespoon sweet potato starch
½ cup white rice flour
1/4th teaspoon xanthan gum (xanthan is a bush)
½ teaspoon baking powder
Combine so that xanthan is evenly distributed.
1 extra large egg, beaten
1 cup beer, very cold
Whisk all ingredients together just until it has combined. If you over blend it will become too thick and act more like a pancake batter than tempura. If 2 cups of batter is not enough just double the batch. Do not save remainder.
ONION RINGS
28 onion rings, cut thick
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
Dust the onion rings in flour and shake off excess.

FRY OIL
1 cup peanut oil
2 cups corn oil

Dust onion rings in flour, then into the batter. Use a deep iron fry pan or home fryer. Slowly add rings to 350 degree oil. Fry three minutes to crisp. Shake off grease. Dump rings on paper towels and then into bowls. Garnish with your home made sweet and sour pickles.
Serve rings and spicy ketchup in bowls or on large platter. Serve ketchup and mustard in a bowl for each guest.
CHICKEN WINGS
This is a take on the late 20th century classic “buffalo chicken wings”. The advent of this product alone sent the once cheap drumettes and wings into a high cost snack. For wing lovers the world over, this increase was not a problem. If you want to be overwhelmed with recipes just type in “chicken wings” and see what happens! There is a recipe for every taste in Super Bowl or simply super bowls, so here is another for the record.
All hot wings seem to call for bleu cheese and celery so we are making a dip to accommodate this great garnish. If you do not have truffle salt that is OK. Buy an ounce dry mushrooms. Grate very fine with “Microplane” or basic box grater. Mix with teaspoon mushroom powder with teaspoon kosher salt. Kosher salt is for preparation and cooking, regular grind salt is for table seasoning. This is an important and necessary distinction often overlooked in recipes. If you do not have truffle oil you can use hazelnut oil which is readily available at most grocery stores.
WINGS
Buy fresh wings at the grocery store. Separate drumette and wing joint with a knife. Wash in cold water. Pat dry. Keep wings cold during prep time.
You can substitute “chicken seasoning” for the thyme, oregano and coriander.
3 pounds wings, fresh
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste

Thoroughly mix the seasonings and then coat the wings. Store in large Ziploc bag or plastic container overnight.
Remove from refrigerator and arrange on baking pan. Bake 450 degrees for 20 minutes, turn wings over and bake another 20 minutes.
Put in big bowl or on a platter with the dip in individual bowls for each person.
Super Bowls are a lot of fun. They tend to be easy to prepare and you can serve a lot of people from one big container.  You cannot go wrong as there is always an audience for big bowls and big love!

A new year speaks in smiles and hugs,
In the toasts, in the promises kept,
In the foods and open hearths
Where all our loves are all our lives,
And all our friends are all our loves.
I believe in the honesty implied,
In the trust not forsaken,
In the way we care for each other
And not in how some lie or slander.
Knives are best on cutting boards
And never used in the figurative back.
Being honest is not merely
Pretending so or as something
Twisted in business deals.
A world at war is born in ways
From the smallest detail
To governments and power,
To control and use force on the weakest.
What is done to one is done to the many.
We are here to honor and share,
To seek love, to bond friendships,
Trust between friends is to learn
Trust for the ones we do not know,
A cynic finds ways around all loves,
But for a beautiful, ideal reason,
For the world that is made real
We can choose who are our friends,
And by doing so we express love,
Expressing love is expressing God.
Hold this close for all in our lives,
Cherish the great truth
And say it again,
Expressing God is expressing Love.
Things feel better now, don’t they?
Hello 2012, an open hand
And an open heart is the best
Of all ways to say Happy New Year!

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