Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Taste is a Matter of Balance.

Balance; the equalizing of two items, whether the same or different, so that they are perfectly aligned on a scale.  While that is a simple concept when it comes to a tangible item, not so easy for emotions and feelings.  That is when you have to deal with good vs. bad/evil, light vs. dark, likes vs. dislikes; issues are either black or white.  Balance is a gray area, the mixing of the black and white to form a smooth, even concept.  Some folks are afraid of the negative aspects and try to live a life of "happy, happy, joy, joy"; ignoring the negativity and hoping it will just go away.  Unfortunately, it is not that simplistic.  The holding in creates a pressure that builds up till it explodes, and that is why we need balance in our lives; to keep from exploding.

So, what has this to do with cooking?  Eating, while being a necessity, should be an enjoyment; taste and texture should be a pleasure for the mouth.  However, some folks like their food to be painful, and I often wonder if this is actually how they enjoy it, or is it more for showing off to their peers.  Take "hot wings"; the chiles that can be added to sauces to coat the wings have heat measured by mild, medium, hot, super-hot and atomic.  Personally, I enjoy mild to medium; anything hotter puts my mouth in pain, and I cannot taste the item being eaten.  To me, that is a loss, not a pleasure; the balance between the heat and taste of the sauce is important to me.  But that is me, and when it comes to "hot wings", it is whatever floats your own personal taste boat.


The origin of the original buffalo wing recipe began in 1964, at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.  The bar owner, Teressa Bellissimo, created the dish due to necessity.  However, husband Frank states that this was to get rid of a chicken wing order accidentally delivered to the bar.  Son, Dominic, though claims that, being the good mother Teressa was, made a midnight snack for he and his rather drunk friends who were craving hot snack food.  She deep fried the wings as it would be quicker than roasting, and the skin would become especially crispy.  Covering them in her own special sauce, they were served with a side of blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.  Why?   That is what she had available, and it has well stood the test of time, and many a plateful eaten. Whichever story is true, the wings became a world known appetizer.

The main ingredient, the wings, should always be crispy; mushy, fatty skin just does not have a good mouth feel.  Crispy wings also hold the sauce better.  Always toss the wings in the sauce after frying as the hot oil will only leech the sauce off the wings.  If you want the skin with some type of extra seasoning, do so, but then dredge the wings in flour before dropping into the hot oil.  The skin will still come out crispy, and the seasoning will remain on it.

The traditional dressing served with wings is bleu cheese, but nowadays, ranch is a popular choice.  While the dressing is used as an enhancement by some, most use it to tone down the heat of the hot sauce (raises hand to guilty on all counts).

Remember PJ’s on Center Street, in Monticello?  Now they did buffalo wings the Anchor Bar way, and were the best around. It even had a sweet and spicy version that was out of this world too; oh, and the fries, so good.  Sure do miss that place, and, sometimes, change is not for the best.  Thatzza Pizza, on Main Street, does wings, but baked in the oven, so if you want really crispy, ask them to bake them longer.  However, if you do not mind the drive to Dove Creek, Banger’s Bar and Pizza has one mean selection of wings, with or without bones. The House Bourbon sauce is our personal favorite; they need to jar and sell it; along with their housemade potato chips!


Thatzza Pizza Mild BBQ Wings

Banger's Boneless Wings in House Bourbon Sauce.


 Traditional Buffalo Wings

 (Original recipe from the Anchor Bar, Buffalo, New York)


2 and ½ lbs. wings (12-16 whole wings)

½ cup Louisiana hot sauce (Frank's is the brand when sticking to tradition)

½ cup unsalted butter or margarine

1 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Dash of salt


Split wing at joint, clip tip off if not done already, pat dry.  Deep fry at 350F for 10-12 minutes, drain on paper towels.  To make sauce, mix together hot sauce, butter, vinegar, cayenne, garlic powder, Worcestershire and salt.  Put wings in bowl, add sauce and toss till wings are completely coated.  Serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks.

For those of you that have to have the wings baked in the oven, 425F for 45-60 minutes; until thoroughly cooked and crispy. Turn at least once during baking.

Want a different taste to your wings, try these popular alternative sauces:


1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp. catsup

1 Tbsp. oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp. ginger

Put all ingredients into small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat.  Lower heat to low and let sauce thicken; about 15 minutes.


1 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 (12 oz.) bottle Teriyaki sauce

Put all ingredients into small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat.  Lower heat to low and let sauce thicken; about 15 minutes.


1/2 cup chipotle sauce

1/2 cup butter

2 Tbsp. honey

Put all ingredients into small saucepan; bring to boil on high heat.  Lower heat to low and let sauce thicken; about 15 minutes.

Honey Mustard

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

Mix two ingredients together.

Honey Bourbon BBQ

2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed

2 Tbsp.  apple cider vinegar

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup honey

½ cup bourbon

1 tsp. corn starch

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Mix brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, honey, bourbon, cornstarch, garlic, and Dijon mustard to a medium sized saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15-20 minutes; stir occasionally to keep from burning.

Apologies to all the Super Bowl fans reading this article, I fumbled on getting this out before the game, not after.

Mary Cokenour


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