So recently I celebrated a birthday, and at the end, I did something stupid.
I was at wing night at Patty Boland's and I was sampling wings with my wife. Feeling pretty good and wanting a small thrill, I tried their Reaper Inspired Wings. I signed the waiver, and was excited with my plate of wings and a challenge.
First, these wings were dry rubbed in Reaper Pepper spice. They came on a crispy, fried wing and were tossed in the seasoning. I was expecting a wet sauce, but I thought this would be easier to handle. I was wrong. I ate one wing, and I had to give up. The heat attacked my throat, it went to my lips. I was sweating. The worst part was my stomach started acting up. I did not want to mess with my stomach.
One part of getting older is that you can't do things you used to. I couldn't eat these wings. But part of getting older is getting wiser, and I weighed my pros and cons and determined it wasn't worth it to eat these wings. I mean I could have if I really pushed it, but I didn't. When I did a Ghost Pepper challenge years ago, my body has been affected by that ever since. I didn't want to cause irreparable damage.
I said no, humbled and embarrassed, and took those wings and my tail between my legs, home.
If you are not aware and before you start scoffing at me not being able to eat these wings (without causing serious internal damage), the Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world. The above infographic shows it well - a jalapeno is 10 000 Scoville units; the Carolina Reaper is 2 million. This is dangerous level hot.
So I had 7 dry dusted Carolina Reaper wings (they let me take those home, which is not usually allowed on wing night) and I wasn't NOT going to eat them. I needed to enter the LOTW Test Kitchen and find a way to De-Heat these wings.
I came up with a 3 part strategy to De-Heat these wings.
- Coat the wings in margarine (or butter)
- Coat the wings in bbq sauce
- Spritz those wings with fresh lemon juice
Before that, we needed to re-heat the wings. The best way would have been to deep fry them again, but there was no way I was slogging out the fryer, filling it with oil, heating it, stinking up the place, then clean up. I also wasn't going to take the easy route and microwave them - nuked wings are quick but terrible. So baking these wings on parchment paper was the way I went.
I put them in the toaster oven (didn't need a whole oven for 7 wings) and baked at 400 degrees for like 5 minutes. The wings stayed crispy, but the oils in the wing brought new life back into them. Some of the seasoning 'burnt' and went dark, but that didn't really affect the flavour. I did make the mistake of touching the wings with my bare hands, and then getting the reaper spice on my hands, which I licked. This led to my mouth stinging for a while.
STEP 1 - Margarine
Right out of the oven I added margarine to the wings. Like about 3 or 4 tablespoons. My thinking on this is that the margarine (you could use butter, but this was easier for me) was going to add some heat diffusing layer, just as you add more to hot sauce to make mild/medium/hot wing sauce.
It melted into thos diabolic slurry of spice and vegetable oil. I tossed the wings until they were nice and coated. I think the wings might have been good just like this, but still way way too hot.
STEP 2: BBQ Sauce
I had two reasons for adding BBQ sauce to these wings. 1) the sugar in the sauce was going to help cut down the heat. Plus that sugar was going to cling on and coat those wings well.
2) The flavour (I went with a bold but sweet sauce PC Beer & Chipotle) was going to work well flavour-wise with the pepper. This sauce has a mild kick, but the two would pair well. I love spicy BBQ as a wing flavour.
STEP 3 - Lemon Wedge
I, I don't know why I thought this would help. It technically shouldn't. I mean the acid in the lemon juice would normally exacerbate the heat problem (in the same way that pop, beer or anything that isn't milk makes things worse when you try to douse a heat fire in the mouth). Really, the citrus blast was to elevate the flavour more than anything.
I tossed up those wings - margarine, BBQ sauce, lemon spritz - and it looked and smelled good. I couldn't find any direct evidence of the reaper on these wings. So far, so good. Don't they look good as wings as is?
So I cautiously bit into one of the wings. The first moment I noticed the sweet/savoriness of the sauce. The next moment, the heat of the pepper came though, but at least 50% less. It had worked, mostly!
I ate two wings really quick. My mouth was on fire and my nose was running, but it was good! I ate another one and then two things happened: my stomach recognized the heat in the wings - the sauce was mostly covering up the reaper, but that heat was still there. Diffused, but not to be ignored. Then, I got high. I had this head rush of endorphins like I've never had before. I felt good; a little woozy, a little euphoric. I've had some minor highs eating spicy wings before, but nothing like this. It only lasted a few moments, but it was awesome.
This was an incredible experience, and it's what I love about eating wings. I had the heat and the spice lighting my mouth on fire, with the rich, sweet De-Heating sauce with lemon highlights making some awesomesauce. Also the wings were crispy and crunchy making the texture great as well. Then I got high on my wings. It was simply an amazing experience.
So if you want to De-Heat some wings, adding margarine and bbq sauce is going to help. Lemon didn't seem to do much except flavour. You could also add honey as another way to neutralize heat, but I didn't think it would work with this flavour profile. You have to worry about flavour as much as you do about de-heating the spice.