Well, it had to happen at some point. I can’t hide the fact that I have become a “wing junkie”. Spend enough time in the Mid-South and you are bound to get hooked on the darn things. I never cooked chicken wings until I moved to the Mid-South area, nearly twenty years ago.
For those of you who don’t know what I mean by “Mid-South”, let me try to explain…
The East Coast and West Coast need no explanation…just look at a map of the United States and it’s obvious. The Northwest, Central Plains States make sense, too. It gets a little difficult to define the Mid-West states because they include so many states that I would consider, The North and, it includes Ohio, which can hardly be considered “west”. The Deep South covers a large swath of land from Virginia to Texas, which makes sense, even though Fort Worth, Texas claims the motto, “Where the West begins.” The Southwest is plain enough…it’s all of those big states with deserts and mountains.
The Mid-South is all of the other states that don’t seem to fit in anywhere else, or maybe they are states that are actually parts of other geographically named areas but they’re just not happy about it. According to the internet, and who am I to argue with the internet, the Mid-South includes Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, which is where I reside.
As I was mentioning, I never cooked chicken wings until I moved to the Mid-South. If you look at the states that comprise the Mid-South you might think that barbecue is the main attraction, and you are probably right, but chicken wings aren’t far behind. You can’t throw a rock around here without hitting a chicken wing joint. I’ve come across some great wing restaurants and I’ve seen my fair share of so-so joints. My criteria for a good chicken wing joint is crispy wings (preferably whole wings), good sauces, plenty of crisp vegetables and real blue cheese dressing.
With that, I present tonight’s fare. Buffalo Wings with honest-to-goodness blue cheese dressing and fresh vegetables.
Note: Seasonings can be whatever you like. I don’t know if I have ever made chicken wings the same way twice. I prefer them very spicy, but that’s just me. The spice I used on these may seem extreme but, as they bake, they lose some of the spiciness and just carry the flavor of the spices.
10 whole chicken wings (or about 2 lbs)
2 Tbs Tajin seasoning (contains flavors of chili, lime and sea salt)
2 Tbs smoked paprika
2 Tbs cayenne powder
2 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
For the blue cheese sauce:
8 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup half-and-half
½ cup sour cream
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs lemon juice (or 1 tsp vinegar)
The fruit and vegetables:
3 ribs of celery (sliced into sticks)
2 large carrots (sliced into sticks)
2 large jalapeños (sliced into sticks and seeded)
1 lime (quartered)
Heat an oven to 400°.
Wash the chicken wings under cold water and allow them to air dry for 20 minutes. The skin of the wing needs to dry before adding the spice rub.
In a large mixing bowl, add the spices. Toss the whole wings in the spice mixture. Allow the wings to rest for about 10 minutes, to allow the rub to fully adhere.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper. Lay the wings on the pan and stretch them as wide as they can go. Doing this will maximize the crispiness.
Bake for 45 minutes and then turn the wings over to bake on the other side. Turn the oven down to 350° and bake for another 30 minutes.
While the wings bake, make the sauce and prepare the vegetables.
Prepare the sauce by mixing half of the blue cheese with the rest of the sauce ingredient. Beat with a spatula until creamy.
Add remaining blue cheese and gently incorporate.
Peel the carrots and slice all of the vegetables into sticks.
Slice the lime into quarters.
Arrange the vegetables and lime on a platter.
Pull the wings from the oven and apply the hot sauce of your choice, or serve as is.
Arrange the wings on the platter with the vegetables and lime wedges.
Serve with chilled blue cheese sauce.