By Josh Steiner
Buffalo can have their wings, I’ll take a Bison leg…
Did you see the size of that chicken?
One dreary evening this high plains drifter and his beautiful wife found themselves walking into an unfamiliar bar in an unfamiliar area. This bar was like many, dark, filled with muted mahogany wood tones and pools of fuzzy, buzzing glow born of neon lights. We found seating at the bar where we saw a hand written poster board boasting of a buffalo wing special a buck a’ piece.
I’m in… Eventually a bartender made his way down the bar took our drink orders and asked if we wanted any wings. “We’ll take ten!” I confidently spouted thinking 5 chicken wings apiece were plenty for an appetizer. He replied “Um, how about 5 they’re really, really big.” I figured he’s the expert, right? I mean he does work here, so we ordered 5 and started sipping beer. Soon the felon-buff, chicken wings got dropped in front of us and it suddenly all made sense. These weren’t even chicken wings, they were chicken legs; you know, the drumstick side. Aha! A rare example of doing what is right for the customer and the restaurant.
There is more than one variable to the wing equation…
Because of time restraints chicken wings are hard for restaurants to do right. The sheer amount of cartilage, connective tissue, and skin makes for long frying times. In an effort to shorten this time restaurants often roast, steam, or fry their wings ahead of time and after you order they drop them back in a fryer for a brief second cooking. That is, if you are lucky enough to be eating somewhere that doesn’t do the primary cooking in a factory and transfer frozen out of a bag to a fryer, when ordered
Sounds reasonable, the double cooking result is a perfectly crispy skin (that’s one of the goals) unfortunately it also often leads to small, over cooked and dry chicken wings. On the other hand, some restaurants focus intently on big juicy chicken wings that sport beautifully moist meat but ignore the rubbery skin that results when improperly cooked because the skin and connective tissues haven’t had the time to break down properly.
Change the ratio
As that unfamiliar bar with the happy hour chicken legs already knew, a chicken leg is a far more hassle- free chicken wing alternative. There is far more meat, this means that the skin gets crisp about the same time as your chicken reaches moist meat perfection. As you may suspect inquiring readers, I ran home to replicate these buffalo chicken legs with astounding results and now you can too… As usual first things first; let’s get the oven working we want 400 degrees. While we are waiting for the stove let’s make a dry rub for our chicken drummies.
Rub those legs…
Dry rub; 2 tspns paprika, 2 tspns cayenne, ¼ tspn kosher salt, 1 tspn garlic powder, 1 tspn oregano and a dash o’ cinnamon. Combine. Done, that was easy. Now rub our chicken drummies all over with our rub, I did 6, with some leftover. Place on a roasting or baking rack lined sheet tray and roast at 400 degrees for 45 min.
Bison Legs are like Buffalo wings they need buffalo sauce…
Cool, I have one of those and now so do you. “Bison” sauce; ¼ cup Frank’s Red Hot, ¼ cup butter, ¼ tspn cayenne, ¼ tspn salt, ¼ tspn paprika, ¼ tspn garlic powder, a splash o’ vinegar, 2 tspns honey. Heat to simmer, whisk occasionally, remove from heat, and… done.
350 it’s getting cold in here…
When our 45 minutes in the oven are up we remove our chicken and drop the heat to 350. Then we liberally baste our drummies with the buffalo sauce and put back in the 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. After removing, feel free to garnish with more buffalo sauce for that messy at the pub feel. Serve with the standard carrots, celery, and side o’ bleu cheese dressing.
Questions or comments contact Joshua Steiner @ firstname.lastname@example.org
*Joshua Steiner is a food obsessed individual who has worked in restaurants and kitchens for most of his life and held just about every conceivable job in the industry. Now he’s bringing his tips, tricks and travels to The High Plains Reader and @thepeoplespressproject.org for you to use in YOUR kitchen.