If a man cannot or will not cook, he is not a man. All REAL men – manly men, if you will – know how to cook, and by cook I don’t mean scurry around a studio kitchen yelling “BAM!” and cooking stuff most ordinary chefs don’t cook, like that wretched little Emeril does on his stupid Food Network show. Honestly…what kind of serious chef has his own studio band, complete with an African-American Doc Severinsen? I learned to cook because my mother – God rest her soul – was a superb cook. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had no choice but to teach myself the arcane ways of the kitchen.
Football season is in high gear and already we’re beginning to make plans for that all-important Super Bowl party. Nevermind First Lady Michelle Obama’s nagging insistence that hoi polloi chow down only on grass, tofu and raw vegetables while she snarfs down fried chicken and quesedillas: unless the grub is fattening and entirely unhealthy, your Super Bowl party will be a complete flop. Fortunately, the Bulldog understands this and today I’ll be sharing the recipes for two must-have items at your next football party: onion rings and Buffalo wings.
Bulldog’s Ever-Crisp Onion Rings
What makes these onion rings special is the combination of instant mashed potatoes in the batter and panko breadcrumbs in the coating. Long after the rings have cooled down, the coating is still super crunchy, making them just as delectable hours after they have been served.
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tbsp instant mashed potatoes
Large pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup cold club soda
3 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) in a wide, shallow bowl or dish
Popcorn salt to taste
Canola oil for frying in a wide cast iron or other suitable pan
3 large yellow onions, cut into precise ¼-inch rings – no wider or narrower
Sift together the flour and cornstarch in a large bowl using a sifter or a fine mesh sieve to eliminate lumps. Add the instant mashed potatoes, the cayenne and the club soda. Whisk together to form the batter (don’t worry if it looks too thin – the mashed potatoes will thicken it up soon). Cover and place in fridge for 10 minutes.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and check using a high-heat cooking thermometer. This is important because if the oil is too hot the batter will cook too quickly; if the oil isn’t hot enough, the batter will absorb it and become greasy. Pour the breadcrumbs into a shallow dish.
Remove the batter from the fridge. It should have the consistency of slightly thick pancake batter. If too thick, add more club soda. Drop 4 or 5 rings into the batter and coat them on both sides (use a fork to keep your hands clean). Let excess batter drip off and then place the battered rings in the panko and coat on all sides.
Fry the rings in the oil for 3 minutes until golden brown and delicious; turn once at the 1-1/2 minute mark. Drain on a cake rack and immediately sprinkle with popcorn salt. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until all the onion rings are done.
Bulldog’s Authentic Anchor Bar-Style Buffalo Wings
According to the legend, in 1964 Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar when a group of his friends came by after the kitchen had closed. They were famished and Dominic begged his mother, proprietor Theresa Bellissimo, to prepare something for them to eat. The only thing left were chicken wings, which ordinarily went into the stock pot. She deep fried them and then tossed them in a “secret sauce” (most likely a mixture of margarine, Louisiana hot sauce, Tabasco sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper and some garlic powder). To cool the heat of the sauce, she served them with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. They were an instant hit and it wasn’t long before Anchor Bar Buffalo Wings became a regular part of the menu.
24 chicken wings, cut into flats and drumsticks to create 48 separate pieces; discard wing tips
6 cups canola oil for frying
2 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 cup Louisiana hot sauce
1 cup margarine, melted
Blue cheese dressing
Heat the oil to 350 degrees F and check using a high-heat cooking thermometer. Dry the pieces with paper towel and cook in batches of 12. Lower gently into the hot oil and allow to cook for 20 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Drain on a cake rack.
Add the next 6 ingredients to a small sauce pan, stir together, simmer on low flame for five minutes then remove from heat.
Transfer the wings to a large mixing bowl and pour the sauce over them, tossing gently to be sure wings are completely coated. Pour the sauce over the hot wings and toss with a spoon or spatula to completely coat. Place wings on a large platter and serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.
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