Time for something a little different.
For a while now, I’ve been a member of the website Food52, a collaborative site created by food writers Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs that highlights the recipes of home cooks. The idea is this: every week, the site runs two contests, each featuring a different dish or ingredient. Any site member can submit an original recipe. Hesser and Stubbs choose two finalists from the list of recipes; voting opens at this point. Any member can vote for one finalist. The winner receives a spot in the Food52 cookbook, which will be published by HarperCollins.
A recent contest called for Your Best Chicken Wings, and it was pretty open-ended: Korean-style, Buffalo-style, you name it. As part of the Food52 process, and to help foster a sense of community, Hesser and Stubbs invite members to test certain Editors Pick recipes. One of the chicken-wing recipes up for testing was for scrumptious sounding Longhorn Tequila Wings, by a home cook and small farm owner named Tom Hirshfeld.
The process is a little involved, but man, the results are worth it. First you brine the wings in a mix of tequila, lime zest, salt, and water. After the wings brine for about 90 minutes, you remove them from the brine and dry them on a rack in the fridge. Dredge them in a mix of flour, masa harina, chili powder, and other spices. Fry, and then toss in a dressing of tequila, onions and garlic, peppers, cilantro, and lime.
When I saw the recipe, I knew I wanted to make it, so I called dibs to test it for an Editors Pick. So I whipped them up as a Sunday app, and paired them with shots of tequila and sangrita. Oh my yum.
photo by Jennifer Hess
The wings were great. I chose not to make them overly hot because frankly, I’m kind of a wimp with spicy-hot foods. I like just enough spice to know I’m alive, but not enough to wish I weren’t. Tom calls for them to be served with home-fried tortilla strips, which were addictive. The wings themselves carried the earthy sweetness of the agave juice, well balanced with the heat of the pepper, tang from the lemon, and piquancy of the onion and garlic. The masa gave the coating a nice tenderness, and it’s a grace note I’ll want to play with the next time I fry chicken.
Hirshfeld recommends pairing the wings with a Shiner Bock, in keeping with their Lone Star State inspiration, but I went with the classic tequila/sangrita pairing, and it was fabulous. I want to do this for a cocktail party some time.