It isn’t easy coming up with a recipe for Super Bowl snacks that will stand out in the crowd. But the thought arose: People love to devour chicken wings while watching football, and the craze for bacon has reached near-omnipresence. So ... how about chicken wings cooked in bacon fat!
The bacon fat, as it turns out, adds a little extra meatiness and crispness to the wings. And it is not the kind of health disaster that it might initially appear. The amount of fat -- derived from four slices of home-cured bacon -- came to about two tablespoons to coat about two pounds of wings and drumettes. And these morsels are oven-roasted, not deep-fried.
The sweet thing about cooking chicken wings is that they are receptive to a wide variety of spices and flavorings. If you like the punch in the gut you get from super-spicy Buffalo wings, by all means pour a bottle of hot sauce over them and be done with it. But for this bacon-fat experiment, two quite different seasonings were used.
One was a homemade concoction of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic and smoked paprika, which provided a nice, zesty, almost barbeque flavor. The other was a Greek-style blend from The Spice House here in Chicago. Both are recommended, but the options are as limitless as your imagination.
In all honesty, though, part of the inspiration for this idea was in response to a singularly annoying ad that the Taco Bell fast-food chain aired in the run-up to the Super Bowl.
In the ad, a young woman arrives at a game-watch party with a pre-packaged platter of vegetables. A voiceover pronounces that this is a copout, for which people “secretly hate you.” Then a variety 12-pack from Taco Bell arrives, and it's greeted so enthusiastically it’s surprising the other guests didn’t pick it up and carry it around the room on their shoulders.
The ad prompted a thunderous wave of outrage from vegetarians and health advocates on social media, and Taco Bell quickly pulled it from circulation. But that aspect wasn’t my, um, beef. After all, was anyone under the illusion that Taco Bell’s target demographic included vegetarians and health advocates?
The dissent here is that it is so easy to prepare delicious, more wholesome treats for potlucks like game-watch parties, and it shows much more respect for your host and fellow guests than buying pre-packaged anything.
The implication of the ad was that if you bring a vegetable platter, it’s a copout, but if you bring a box of fast-food tacos you are somehow AWESOME! No, actually, that is just as big a copout. The vegetable platter girl went to the same amount (or lack) of trouble that Taco Bell boy did. Even more maybe, because you actually have to get out of your car to walk into a supermarket for a vegetable platter, whereas you can get those awesome tacos at the drive-through in many places.
So here’s my suggestion. Make a batch of these bacon-fat chicken wings, bring them to a party, and two things will happen:
* People won’t hate you, secretly or otherwise.
* You’ll make fast-food corner-cutting guy look like a chump.
Here’s the instructions (the amounts may be decreased or increased proportionately):
Bacon-fat chicken wings
* Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
* Start with two pounds of chicken wings, about 8-10 each wing portions and drumettes.
* Cook four strips of thick-cut bacon. Remove bacon when done and reserve for other uses.
* Measure the rendered fat, which should come to about two tablespoons, then return to the pan with the chicken wings. Toss to coat.
* Season to taste (see above for two suggestions).
* Place pan of wings into the oven. Cook for 12-1/2 minutes on one side, then turn the wings and cook for 12-1/2 minutes on other side.
* Reduce heat to 325. Cook on the same side for 7-1/2 minutes, then turn the wings and cook on the other side for a final 7-1/2 minutes.