Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lets Wing it Closed, but still serving wings . . .

I was walking up Yonge Street this weekend, and passed Let's Wing It, only it wasn't Let's Wing It (LWI) anymore. I had noticed a few months back their website went down. Well, they are gone now. But in it's place is Wild Wing (WW). Which must have been an easy transition because LWI was originally a WW to begin with and went independent. The furniture, the decor, it was pretty much all the same.

I'd prefer to support an independent wing place, but LWI was not very good and WW is much better.

And the winner of BOTW 2012 was . . .

Ok I'm just teasing - if you don't know the winner, your going to still have to wait - I'm still editing the video and photos. But they will be up soon (and not a year late like last time). But soon!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chestnut's BATTLE of the WINGS - 2011

This review is late. Exactly one year late. But better late than never.

In 2010 I was invited to come and judge the first Battle of the Wings challenge at Chestnut Residence at the University of Toronto. Run by executive Chef Jaco Lokker and Food & Beverage Manager Glenn Edwards, the competition was between Jaco and his three sous chef's, Eddie, Fitzroy and Oliva with each of them designing their own wings.

I was honoured to be a judge again and for all the promotion. My vote didn't count for as much this time, but really that's much more fair.

At 4:45pm the wings came out. Each student picked up a ballot, then plated up the wings. This went on until the wings ran out around 7:30. How many wings do they go through? 1000 pounds of wings. That's one pound for every student in the building.

I was fortunate to also get behind the scenes and see how the wings were made. It was fascinating to see how the food was prepared and the testing that went into the wings.

The ballots were secret, with students only knowing the number of the wings. I'm going to tell you though who's was who's.


Eddies wings (with help from Berto)

These wings were quite different from the ones I had sampled behind the scenes. They were breaded, deep fried, and had a sweet and spicy sauce.


Jaco's Wings

Jaco's wings were similar to the ones he won with last year, but toned down a bit. Breaded and deep fried with a sweet and spicy sauce as well. I didn't get to try these earlier because he was keeping very secretive.


Fitzroy's Wings.

Fitzroy went with jerk-style wings again. These were marinaded, then baked.


Olivia's wings.

Olivia tested out a number of recipes, and being the 'rookie', had a lot of pressure on her. She went with a breaded dry wing, that was seasoned with citrus and salt and had a creamy dressing put on the side.

My first test plate. It was so good. And I need to be clear, they were all very good. Choosing was tough.

I think these are Jaco's wings. Not only has it been a year, but Jaco's and Eddie's wings look very similar. If they were Jaco's, they were a bit sweet, and a bit spicy. They also had a nice crunch.

Fitzroy's jerk wings were tender (having marinaded at least over night, then roasted). They weren't too spicy heat wise, but they did have a lot of flavouring of spice.

Olivia's wings were definitely a unique way to go. Crispy and crunchy - they maintained this structure because there was no sauce. The seasoning was citrus/salty which made for a nice piece of chicken, but add the creamy, garlicky sauce on the side and you had a lot of different things going on different levels.

Eddies wings were also crispy. I was told the sauce went through several revisions, and one of the ingredients was 7-Up! It had a nice heat to it, but was also sweet. Although I have to admit I did like the tandoori style sauce that they started out with.

Of course you need to keep trying to make sure you're judging correctly.

No seriously. Because different batches came out slightly differently. This is both an art and a science.

Hundreds of votes were cast for their favourite. Everyone had their opinion heard. I also made my judgement, who happened to be in the majority.

So who won (Well besides all of us eating the wings)? Well, lets watch the video and see:

Congratulations Eddie (and Berto)! It was close, but I think Battle of the Wings 2011 was a complete success.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

It's Coming . . . Chestnut Battle of the Wings

WWWWWW #56 - Cupcake Project Buffalo Chicken Superbowl Cupcakes

Yes, World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday. WWWWWW. This is where I will surf the Web, and find other people talking about chicken wings. The world is full of chicken wing stories, wacky and otherwise. Recipes, restaurant reviews, eating contests or whatever. Today's Blog relating to wings in some shape or form:

"Hi, I'm Stef.  I live in St. Louis, Missouri with my husband (who is the editor, photographer, and official taster for Cupcake Project) and our toddler.  Food writing wasn't always my full time job. " But now it is, and Stef does some amazing looking cupcakes. She also makes amazing looking cupcakes with chicken wings:

 Buffalo Chicken Superbowl Cupcakes

"After hearing that I was going to bake buffalo chicken Super Bowl cupcakes (with hot sauce and blue cheese in the cake and a blue cheese buttercream frosting), one of my friends asked if I would be baking the cupcakes as as a joke.  "Are they just supposed to be funny, or will you actually enjoy eating buffalo chicken cupcakes?"  Having not yet baked the Super Bowl cupcakes, I told them that I was baking them mostly for the fun of it.  I didn't expect them to be particularly good."

That's right, chicken wings, on a cornbread muffin, with blue cheese butter cream frosting. Awesome. Simply awesome. And don't forget to wash it down with Stef's "Beer Cheese Cupcakes with Bacon Cheddar Cream Cheese"  - whether it's the Superbowl or not.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

WWWWWW #55 - Amy Bergsen's 2012 wings in 2012

Yes, World Wide Web Wacky Wing Wednesday. WWWWWW. This is where I will surf the Web, and find other people talking about chicken wings. The world is full of chicken wing stories, wacky and otherwise. Recipes, restaurant reviews, eating contests or whatever. Today's Blog relating to wings in some shape or form:

 This one's a little unconventional. Try and stay with me:

So Chris over at Nibble Me This, sent me a link from Scott Roberts, who was reporting on Eat More Heat's marketing director, Amy Bergsen, who is following in Ryan Hollman's footsteps (the Ultimate Wingman, who was WWWWWW #38,) who ate 2011 wings in 2011 - but now Amy is going to eat 2012 wings in 2012 for charity.

Got it? Good. 
Let's hope she raises some good money to fight cancer and eats some tasty wings along the way.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Wing P0Rn: Chestnut Jan 2012

My Supper Tonight - can you get food like this at your work?

Breaded & spiced wings, tossed in BBQ sauce. I've added Frank's hot sauce. Curly fries on the bottom.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Emeril's Smoker Bag & My Smoked/Fried/BBQ sauced Wings

So last year I was given a great gift by my girl for X-mas that stayed on my pantry shelf for, well a year. It was two Emeril Legasse Smoker Bags (Hickory and Mesquite) for smoking food in an oven (now that I no longer have access to a BBQ). There was no reason I didn't use them, but this past weekend I decided I was going to use them after all.

When I think of Smoking food I sure don't think of Emeril. Bobby Flay or maybe Guy Fieri but not Emeril. I don't think he has much to do with the product other than endorsing it.

It's a great concept. You can use it on your grill or a campfire, but the great application is its use in an oven. I live in an urban environment and smoking is not a possibility except to go to restaurants. Now I have the power to make food smell good in my own kitchen.

Pick your meat, figure out how long it will take to smoke, then do it. Simple.

The inside of the packet has a bunch of recipes and cooking tips. 

Size wize, the packet doesn't look very big, but it does hold a lot. And look at those clear instructions on the bottom.


I had two pounds of wings that I cut up. I knew the smoking was good, you still got to rub your bird down. So I kept it simple and commercial and used Cajun rub.

Once rubbed, into the bag they went. These were big wings, and 2lbs fit in with just a little space to spare. Actually it was just right.

I folded up the end and the already heated oven was ready. The instructions said to heat it to 475-500 and leave the door open, but a) that seems ridiculously high b) my smoke detector goes off when the oven is near 400 with a brief opening of the door, let alone keeping it up c) it was waaay to warm in my unit as it was, let alone that much heat pouring into the space.


Following the directions, I let the wings cook for 45 minutes at 450. When I pulled out the tray, the bag was inflated like a little zepplin. I was very nervous about opening up the bag - not from the steam and heat - but from volumes of smoke I imagined that would set off the smoke detector, or worse, the building fire alarm. I let it sit for a minute, then slowly, slowly, opened the back up.

Steam poured out, but not smoke. I mean there was a smokey smell, but nothing that was going to wreck my place. Inside I found the wings well cooked, smoked, and swimming in juice.

I pulled out a drummette which looked really good. It smelled good too. And, it tasted good. The hickory smokey flavour was good, as was the Cajun rub. The meat was tender (actually it was so hot it was almost too hot to hold). This was good, but I had already planned to make it better.


My biggest pet peeve with smoked wings are that the skin is not crispy. Knowing this, in the last 15 minutes of smoking, I had the oil in my deep fryer at the appropriate heat. After sampling the straight smoked wing, I dropped a batch into the fryer. And because the wings were already cooked, they only needed a few minutes in their bath.

Oh man, was that a tasty wing. Crispy, but the chicken was so flavourfull. This was awesome. But it I thought it could be even better . . .


While the fryer was heating and the wings smoking, I also whipped together a BBQ sauce. I took some Baby Ray's, some sriracha, a little hot pepper sauce and some pineapple juice. I bottled the mix and squirted over the wings that were tossed in a bowl.

The wings with Chairman Emeril in the background looking on.


My supper - homemade Caesar salad, yes, I made the dressing from scratch with coddled egg, anchovies and everything - and the wings. And a Cherry Coke to boot.

How good were these wings? Good. Very good. This has quickly become one of my favourite styles of wings. Smoked, fried and sauced wings. I love the levels of flavour and texture.

 There are 3 levels of flavour:

  • BBQ sauce
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Hickory smoked chicken
The 3 levels of texture:

  • Goey, thick sauce
  • Crispy skin
  • Tender chicken that just pulls apart

Above is a shot of a deboned wing. You can see the crispiness of the skin, the saucy sauce, and the tender chicken. This was such a good meal that was satisfying on many levels. Everything went right and I'm glad.

So my review of Emeril's Smoke Bag is thumbs up. The bag was not as strong as you would get from a real smoker, but for someone who lives twenty some odd stories up, this is the only way I'm getting something smoked. I'm curious how oven cooked ribs would be like using this, or even vegetables. There is a lot of potential out there.

If your looking to smoke indoors, and you want a crispy wings, use the smoker bag, then deep fry. You will enjoy it, trust me.