Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Super Bowl fans likely to nosh while hoping their team triumphs
Wings (and a prayer?) BY KIMBERLY MARSELAS, Correspondent
Besides a blowout or a botched national anthem, the last thing anyone wants during the Super Bowl is a soggy chicken wing.
The lowly wing, once routinely tossed aside in restaurant kitchens, is now a staple on appetizer menus. And the typical Buffalo-style wing isn't alone at the table. Local chefs are serving up wings and drumettes coated in garlic and Parmesan, beer-based sauces and even Sriracha, a spicy Asian chili paste.
At no time of the year will they serve more than this weekend. The National Chicken Council estimates foodies and football fans will come together to feast on more than 1.23 billion wings at restaurants and at home.
"It's crazy," says John Georgallis, owner of The 915 Caf' on North Plum Street. "My relatives used to all own restaurants and they would tell me, 15 to 20 years ago, they used to give away wings for free. Nobody wanted them."
Though wholesale wing prices recently set a Department of Agriculture record in the Northeast, most local chefs say they aren't passing along the higher cost to customers. Most will run their in-house Sunday wings specials this weekend at the same price as last year.
The wings will be basically flying out of Georgallis' kitchen, which will likely crank out more than 300 dozen wings on Sunday. Georgallis says 915 cooks all of its wings to order, whether coated in garlic butter or an extreme heat sauce featuring habanero peppers. Cooks also accommodate requests for "extra crispy," which may fry for up to 20 minutes.
Home chefs don't have to sit on the sidelines this weekend. Frying up the kind of sticky-crisp wings commercial chefs do is harder without a 50-gallon deep fryer, but not impossible.
Mick's All-American Pub in Mount Joy and Lancaster, owned by Mick and Stephanie Owens, is known for its wing specials and sauces, including Amber, which combines barbecue, garlic butter, Parmesan cheese and medium wing sauce.
Mick Owens says the key to making a great wing is starting with fresh meat.
"If you freeze meat, it's like cooking it twice," Owens says. "When you get a mushy texture, you know it's been frozen."
Another clue: black bones indicate that the cook used frozen wings, while scraps with white bones mean you ate fresh meat.
To keep wings crispy, cook them in small batches. Dropping too many into hot oil at once is like dropping an ice cube into a bowl of soup -- it will bring down the temperature and let the oil seep into the meat. To keep the oil hot enough to crisp the skin, cook a dozen or fewer at a time.
Or follow the advice of Scooter's chef Tim Whitmyer, who has popularized Guinness and Sriracha wings, and consider baking them.
"If you put liquidy sauces on right away, you'll get a saucier wing," Whitmyer says. "Or you can add the sauce later in the cooking. You can do it to what your preference is."
Whether frying or baking, cook wings to 165 degrees. If baking, check for doneness by breaking a wing in half and making sure the meat is white all the way through.
Picking up wings to take to a Super Bowl party? Georgallis says to look for a vent in the take-out container. If there isn't one, make a hole so steam can escape.