Filial Wings

April 13, 2012

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
~Unknown

This quote was first attributed to the revered, occasionally ornery, Mark Twain. But that credit now seems apocryphal as apparently Twain did not utter it. There is no evidence that links Twain to the adage, and the first version that appeared was in 1915–five years after his death. The son’s age in the quote has varied over time, and while it does not rule out a fictional biographical nexus, it should be remembered that Twain’s father died when he was eleven years old.

Scholars have not found this saying in Twain’s literary works, writings, notebooks or letters and relating this quote to him are skeptical at best. No version of this same passage has been ascribed to any other significant figure either.

Did Twain inherit the quote as a vestige from earlier mots justes? A subliminal post mortem tribute? Twain or not, I still love the quote (and the man).

This is game grub. The NCAA Tourney may be history, but the London Olympics, NBA Playoffs, French Open, UEFA Euro Championship, Tour de France, Wimbledon, World Cup Qualifying, MLB season, US Open, NFL season, to name a few, all await this year. The wings beckon too, most wondrous “children”–you know who you are.

CHICKEN WINGS

3 lbs chicken wings, wingettes and drumettes intact

1 T sea salt
1 T sugar
1 T light brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika
Juice of 2 limes
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1/2 C sriracha
1/4 C chile garlic sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/4 C honey
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Zest + juice of 1 lime
2 t sea salt

2 C duck fat
2 C canola oil
Sea salt

Scallions, green part only, chopped
Jalapeños, stemmed, and thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves

Combine the salt, sugars, paprika, lime juice, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Place the wings in a large ziploc bag, pour in the marinade and toss to thoroughly coat. Marinate for 2 hours or even overnight, then remove from fridge and allow to reach room temperature. Discard smashed garlics.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by adding sriracha, chile garlic sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic, jalapeño, honey, butter, lime and salt in a heavy medium saucepan. Place over medium high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and whisk occasionally until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. The sauce can be adjusted by adding more chile sauce for spice or more honey for sweetness. Season with salt to taste and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Spread marinated wings out on a foil covered, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with any remaining marinade, and roast until almost but not fully cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Place a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat and add duck fat and canola oil. With a deep fry thermometer, allow the fat to reach 360 F, add the wings and fry until golden and crispy. Using a large spider, remove onto paper towels to drain and promptly season with salt.

Meanwhile, reheat the sauce to almost a simmer. Place fried wings in a large glass ovenproof bowl, pour the hot sauce over, then mix well to coat evenly so the wings are nicely glazed.

Garnish with scallions, sliced jalapeños and cilantro. Serve with yogurt-blue cheese, barbeque, and chipotle sauces.

Pourboire: some prefer the wingettes and drumettes separated for more even frying and easier eats. Others favor lightly dusting the wings in all-purpose or rice flour before frying. Also consider a sauce with a Thai bend mixing sriracha, chile garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, dry sherry, soy sauce, garlic, bird chiles, peanut oil, lime and salt. Serve with red curry, gai yang, and peanut sauces.

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