2.5lbs chicken wings
535g sea salt
Peanut oil (the amount will depend on the size of your saucepan)
Beech wood dust for smoking
Cut through the tendons of each wing joint so it separates into three parts - the wing, drumstick and tips. Reserve the tips separately - you can roast these in a 350ºF oven for 25 minutes for a crispy treat. Brine the wings and drumsticks in a 80% salt to water brine for one hour. For 2.25 litres of water dissolve 535g salt in about one litre of hot water and then top up with cold water and ice. I put everything in a ziplock bag and close it without air bubbles.
After an hour pour away the brine and rinse the wings. Lay them on an oven rack over a baking tray and allow to dry for an hour. Cold smoke the wings for three hours over beech wood dust. Preheat the oven to 212ºF and then roast the wings until they reach an internal temperature of 65ºC. Check them periodically with a meat thermometer. At this point you can cool and store the wings in a fridge for up to a week.
Fill a saucepan three quarters the way up with peanut oil and heat over a medium flame until the oil reaches 215ºC. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 100ºC. Carefully lower each wing into the hot oil to avoid any splattering. Deep fry the wings in batches of no more than six for four minutes until they are light brown and crisp. Remove the wings with tongs and place on a plate covered with kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil. Transfer the wings onto an oven rack and place in the preheated oven to keep warm. When the oil in the saucepan reaches 215ºC again start frying the next batch and continue until you have fried all the wings. When you are ready to serve Put all the wings into a bowl with the warm hot sauce and toss to coat.
Serve the wings with blue cheese sauce, extra hot sauce and carrot and celery sticks. Eat them as soon as you can pick one up without burning your fingers.
6 fl oz Tabasco or Louisiana sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
About 6 fl oz of white vinegar (adjust to taste)
5-10 grams of cornstarch or kudzu starch dissolved in a little water
200g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Sea salt to taste
Combine the hot and Worcestershire sauces, cayenne and garlic powders and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture reduces by half. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, cube by cube. Taste and adjust the sauce with salt if needed. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thin bring the sauce back to the boil and add the starch mixture sparingly, whisking each time until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency. Keep the sauce warm but not bubbling over a low heat or in a warm oven.
Blue cheese sauce
Half a tablespoon of butter
Half a tablespoon of flour
150ml whole milk
6oz salty, citrusy blue cheese like Great Hill Blue
150g crème fraîche
Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat and add the flour. Stir to form a soft paste - add more flour if needed. Whisk in the milk bit by bit and simmer the mixture to form a smooth sauce that will thickly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and cool. Blend the cooled white sauce with the crème fraîche and half of the blue cheese (especially the white bits near the rind) in a food processor until smooth. Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl, crumble in the remaining cheese and stir to combine. Chill until needed.
Celery and carrot sticks
Wash the vegetables, peel the carrots and cut them into one inch by 2-3 inch batons.
I hope this will end up as a collection of recipes, restaurants and anything else that celebrates the wonderful diversity of foods and how we prepare and eat them. Some ingredients may seem unusual to you, but I love learning about new cooking techniques and tasting new foods. I am fascinated by the way in which different cultures have made their food into something more than just fuel. This is a reflection of what excited me at that time and season. Above all it is a record of where I was and what was eaten...and how to bring those memories back again.