Buffalo Chicken Wing Tacos

I love tacos. I love buffalo wings. So there can’t be anything wrong with combining the two, right? Well this recipe starts with a brilliant new favorite method to make chicken wings and ends with a tale of caution. I got this recipe from “Tacos: Recipes and Provocations” by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman (hello Christmas present!!!). I’ve tweaked it just a touch, but I’ve really, really fallen in love with their simple method for the most succulent, no-stress chicken wings. The meat LITERALLY falls of the bone, and I hate that expression.

The basic method is a confit – cooking the chicken wings, bone on, submerged in fat in the oven for over an hour. Then you are told to gently pull the bones out (I thought it would be impossible – have you tried eating a chicken wing before?! It’s not easy to eat, much less Operation the bone out of the meat with your fingers) and keep the remaining meat intact as much as you can. But I swear – it is so easy to do. It slides out effortlessly. I’d use this method to cook boneless or bone-in wings. Little effort, big payoff.

The recipe in the cookbook includes a “hot sauce” of sorts called Salsa Macha…but DJ SnuggleMonster didn’t care for the peanuts that are in the hot sauce, so feel free to use your own favorite buffalo sauce (it better include Texas Pete hot sauce or we can’t be friends).

So, you must be asking by now – what is the tale of caution?! Since this recipe calls for a considerable amount of lard/shortening…which solidifies when it gets to room temperature – do not just flush large amounts down your kitchen sink. My mom always told me to never put any oil/fat down the sink, but DJSM always thought that was an old wive’s tale and didn’t think twice about it. Well, after a flooded cabinet beneath the sink and two rolls of paper towels later, we learned our lesson. So, get as much of the fat into a can/foil/disposable bowl…whatever. And just throw it out. I always did like my mama did and reserved as much as I could back in the Crisco can for the next batch (she fried all the time in a FryDaddy, so she needed a lot of it lol).

SERVINGS: About 12 tacos and about 1 1/2 cups of Salsa Macha

TIMING: 2 hrs 45 minutes plus cooling time (at least an hour to overnight)

INGREDIENTS:

For the Tacos:

  • 24 chicken wings (about 4.5 pounds…DO NOT get drummettes – as much as I prefer those in my bone-in wing feasts)
  • Kosher salt
  • One whole head of garlic (yes an entire head…don’t be shy!)
  • 6 cups (48 ounce can) of lard or shortening, melted (if you can find lard, go with shortening. Shortening will do…but it just isn’t the animal you want!)
  • celery stalks (chopped or left in taco-sized sticks)
  • 6 ounces blue cheese
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Your favorite tortillas

For the Salsa Macha (i.e. buffalo sauce):

  • 10-11 dried arbole chiles (or whatever hot, small, red chiles you can find…if you like it spicier, do 12 but I wouldn’t go much more than that)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, shelled peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and/or smashed with your knife like you’re mad
  • 1 chipotle chile from canned chipotle in adobo
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

DIRECTIONS:

Start with the chicken for the taco filling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep your chicken by cutting off the tips and drumstick part from the wings. This sounds harder than it is! Feel along the drum until you can feel a thinner part of the bone or where the wing meets the drum. Cut there. Do the same for the tip. Once you cut one or two, you’ll get a feel for where the joints are. Throw the tips out (or use for stock – you’re choice). Nestle the chicken together in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Peel (or smash if you want), all of the cloves of garlic from the head and nestle in among the wings (be sure to spread the garlic out). Generously salt the wings, but don’t disturb your layout. Pour the melted lard or shortening over the chicken wings. Cover and place in the oven for 90 minutes.

Remove the Dutch oven and leave, covered and undisturbed, for 1 hour at room temperature. No peeking! After the hour, carefully remove the wings from the pot and place, skin side up, on a baking sheet. Yes – it is important to be careful here with the wings. The chunks will literally fall apart and shred out if you aren’t careful, and you want as big of pieces as you can get. Gently remove the bones (slide them out one side while you hold the piece of meat still). For the drummettes, hold the chunk of meat and pull out the bone, then grip the top and pull out the bit of cartilage from the remaining meat. Place in the fridge, on the baking sheet, for at least one hour or overnight. Start on the sauce.

For the sauce, heat the vegetable oil, sesame seeds, peanuts, and garlic in a pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peanuts and sesame seeds are golden and the garlic cloves start to brown just a bit (roughly 5-10 minutes), For the chiles, remove the stems and shake the chiles or roll them between your fingers to get ALL the seeds out. If need be, cut a slit down the side of the chile and remove all of the remaining stubborn seeds. Get rid of the seeds. Add the chipotle chile and the drieed chiles to the pan off the heat and steep off the heat for 10-12 minutes.

Place the mixture in a blender with the vinegar, salt, and honey. Puree until very, very, very smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover and put in the fridge until you need it. The sauce will keep for up to 1 month.

Come back to the chicken! We’re almost done here! Preheat the boiler to 500 degrees (or as high as you can get it). Brush some of the buffalo sauce onto the wings (double check that the skin side is up). Broil for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce bakes into the wings and bubbles and you get a small amount of dark brown on the chicken.

Add the chicken, blue cheese, celery, some lime, and extra sauce to a tortilla and eat! You can add more peanuts, but that’s just too weird for me. You’re set!

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