Yes, it is that time of year again, high school, college and professional football seasons are ready to begin. That means parties, tailgating and lots of food! Some of the most common tailgating foods are salsas, dips, hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, bratwurst and of course CHICKEN WINGS!!!
There are many schools of thought on preparation techniques for all of these items, but one common requirement is to start any recipe with the best quality ingredients you can find. I am going to focus on chicken wings in this installment, and in future articles I will address some of the other favorites.
When it comes to wings, your first decision is do you want to serve whole wings, which are the drumette, the flat and the tip all still intact as one piece, or the “party wing” which is the drumette and flat sections that have been cut apart and the wing tips removed. Party wings are the most common and preferred style, however whole wings do show up at many tailgate parties and are never unwelcome! Many people really enjoy the wing tip and therefore prefer the whole wing. There are also cost advantages to whole wings as they tend to be less expensive than party wings since there is less processing required and less waste incurred by the packer. Whichever you choose, you can’t really go wrong; it is just a matter of personal preference. Merchants Market offers both the whole wings and the party wings so be sure to ask your sales rep to give you the prices of each so you can make a decision for yourself.
WHOLE WING PARTY WINGS
Now comes the preparation… fried, grilled, baked…and the seasoning and sauce if you choose to sauce them. Brining chicken wings before cooking can make them retain more juice and flavor. It is an easy process and your brining solution can contain herbs and spices in addition to the essential salt. It is important to note that most party wings have been treated and glazed with a brining solution prior to packing so therefore do not require any further brining, while most whole wings are not pre-treated. There are pros and cons to this. Party wings can have as much as 15% of their weight made up by the solution which you are paying for in the per pound price and a portion of this weight will leach out during the thawing process. Even more will cook out, but your end product will be moist and flavorful. The choice again is up to you. Most operators do choose the party wing over the whole wing.
Now it comes to your chef and his creativity! Marinades, pastes and dry rubs prior to cooking help enhance the flavor of the finished product and of course the finishing sauces used after cooking are of the utmost importance. Oh, don’t forget the blue cheese dressing and the carrot and celery sticks (many different combinations of crisp vegetables and dips can be used!).
So, that being said, call Merchants, ask about our wing offerings and get creative. The hotter the better for a lot of people, but there are some who just like them mild. One thing to keep in mind is that wing prices do go up as the season progresses with the highest prices typically being from New Year’s through the Super Bowl. Use them wisely and they can generate lots of profit by themselves and in conjunction with the beverages that are usually ordered with them. Have fun, get creative with your sauces and make your customers happy!