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Baked Buffalo wings: low carb, high flavor chicken

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The Buffalo wing can be a fairly greasy food. Chicken wings contain a surprising amount of subcutaneous fat, the hot basting sauce is butter-based, and some recipes recommend frying the wings to cook them. Talk about piling on the fat! The original wing recipe called for broiling the wings, which would render out much of the fat but can also result in very dry meat. The compromise here is to bake the wings. This helps keep the meat moist, fuses the basting sauce onto the wings and renders out the chicken fat.

The following recipe adds a lot of heat with a double-dose of cayenne pepper. First, the sauce uses a full tablespoon of red pepper sauce. An additional tablespoon of ground cayenne is added both for flavor and to add color to the sauce. If this is more heat than desired, add a tablespoon of cider vinegar; the acid tends to modulate some of the heat.

Although bleu cheese dressing is the traditional dipping sauce for Buffalo wings, substituting a nice, cool creamy ranch dressing or cucumber dressing works equally as well. Both serve as a contrast to the intense heat of the cayenne pepper and each lends a different flavor dimension to the meal.

Baked Buffalo Wings
2 lbs. frozen chicken wings, thawed
1/4 c. butter or olive-oil spread
1 tbsp. hot pepper sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. ground red cayenne pepper
dash ground black pepper
1 tbsp. cider vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pan with aluminum foil; place chicken wings in single layer in pan and bake 20 minutes.

While the wings are baking, melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in hot pepper sauce, herbs and spices. Set aside.

Remove chicken from oven. Reserve 2 tbsp. of the basting sauce; coat chicken with remaining sauce. Return to oven for an additional 20 minutes.

When chicken has been thoroughly cooked, remove from oven, baste with reserved sauce and allow meat to rest 5 minutes before serving. Makes 2 servings.

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