Football’s Favorite Food – How Jersey Fans Can Enjoy Wings With “Giant” Flavor and “Big Blue” Cheese During The Big Game
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 • 12:00am
The Giants advance to the NFC Divisional Round, which can only mean one thing – wings, and lots of ‘em. Football fans across the tri-state area will be munching on football’s unofficial party food while cheering on the Big Blue through this weekend's victory and, hopefully, the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl. Whether you are going to your favorite bar to watch the big game, or hosting a party, you deserve wings as good as Ahmad’s rushing attacks. Here is your ultimate guide to wings – how to make them and where to score them, as the Giants score their way to Indianapolis.
As you may know, Buffalo chicken wings – alternatively called hot wings, wings or drummies - were created in New York State. The Anchor Bar in Buffalo is the undisputed birthplace of spicy wings. Albeit in Bills territory, wings have since made their way into sports bars and go perfectly with cold beer. While fans in Green Bay will be busy munching on cheese, Giants fans will be challenging their taste buds to something with, well, a little more kick.
Wings gained prominence nationally after the Buffalo Bills’ four consecutive appearances in the Super Bowl from 1990-1993, one of which was against the Giants. I happened to be living with my college boyfriend during those years, who was from Amherst, NY, a suburb of Buffalo. The only things he loved as much as his beloved Bills were: his family, wings, the University of Michigan, history and me (not necessarily in that order). I suffered through four consecutive Super Bowl losses with him, but gained an appreciation for wings that I carry to this day.
Thanks to the focused considerable media attention in the early 90s, Buffalo cuisine gained significant nationwide exposure. Now you can find wings at sports bars, micropubs, supermarket buffets and upscale restaurants alike, as they have gained immense popularity over the past 20 years. I love the wings at Publick House in Mountainside, and The Office Beer Bar & Grill. My readers also recommend Flannery’s Pub in Fanwood, Knotty Pine Pub in Wharton, Brooklyn Pizza in Cranford, Buffalo Wild Wings in Watchung, Delicious Heights in Berkeley Heights and Star Tavern in Orange, NJ. Verging on Eagle territory, I also recommend the Jughandle Inn in Cinamminson in South Jersey.
If you are adventurous, own a deep fryer and are not watching your waistline, you can make restaurant quality wings at home. It’s a fairly simple process - you deep fry chicken wings or drummettes, smother in a mixture of hot sauce and butter, serve with a cup of blue cheese dressing and garnish with carrot & celery sticks. The Anchor Bar won’t divulge their secret recipe but you can purchase their hot sauce.
If you want the taste of wings but wish to skip the fat and calories, roast the chicken instead of frying. Or, bbq some chicken cutlets, cut them into strips and serve with Jim Beam Wing Sauce, Marie’s All Natural Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing and vegetable sticks.
If you want to riff on the Buffalo chicken theme, you have many options. Can’t decide on wings or pizza? Try the Buffalo chicken pizza at Gallo’s Pizzeria in South Plainfield. Want to spice up your chili this year? Use ground chicken, bleu cheese crumbles and hot sauce in place of beef, cheddar and cumin. Make a salad with grilled chicken chunks that were marinated in hot sauce and mix with romaine lettuce, crumbled gorgonzola, and chopped carrots & celery. The same ingredients can be used to make wraps that you can slice into finger-sized pieces. I’ve even had buffalo chicken soup, which added the same basic ingredients to chicken broth. Serve in shot glasses or espresso cups and you’ll score some major points.
If you want to buy them, I recommend Wegmans Self Serve Chicken Wing Bar in Woodbridge or Bridgewater. Get them in bulk and reheat in the convection oven to give the skin a gold crispiness. This will be great at your party - Osi Umenyiora shouldn’t be the only guy who gets to enjoy a good sack.
Your biggest questions now are what style of chicken wings to make or serve, and when to put them out. Eli Manning is known for his fourth-quarter comebacks but I recommend serving them hot at the half while watching Madonna. As far as flavors, wings are now available in many varieties such as honey mustard, teriyaki, Thai peanut and jalapeno to name a few. In How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman has a great recipe for Beer-and-Butter Chicken Wings that replaces hot sauce & vinegar with stout beer simmered-till-thick with butter.
So there you have it - the ultimate guide to making, buying, serving and eating wings. Let's hope getting to and winning the Super Bowl will be as enjoyable. Go Giants!