National Chicken Wing Day

In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, which falls on July 29th each year, I decided to have some friends over and cook up some Award Winning Wings. I say they are Award Winning because the recipe I used came from Suzanne's Kitchen which won Best in the Buffalo Style category at Pepper's Tailgate Party at the Beach, and will be featured on the cover of Chile Pepper Magazine this upcoming issue. Suzanne was kind enough to send me her "Hell" style pepper jelly and submit her recipe for our Recipe section, so I thought, "What better wings to cook up for this special occasion?"

I had the pleasure of trying these wings down in Rehoboth Beach, but after eating so many different varieties of wings and sauces at an event like that, you tend to forget what's what and how things taste (especially after eating a super hot wing for example... the subsequent wings are muted by your abused tongue). Having the jelly delivered and the ability to make them at my leisure allowed me some one on one time with the wings to see how they really hold up.

Now I'm not necessarily a "Chilehead" and I don't review sauces or chili dishes. I tend to stick to what I know, and that's the wing dish as a whole. So I tossed the seasoned chicken in the oven and began to think about what to make for the lovely lady of the house. You see although I had two wing enthusiasts with me to enjoy and dissect this dish, I also have the extra bonus challenge of mixing things up a bit for my wife who likes chicken, but not on the bone. So I used this opportunity to substitute the bone-in chicken for chicken breast tenderloins to see how this alternative would pan out.

When the chicken was done baking, I tossed them in some Frank's Red Hot and threw them on the grill like the recipe instructed. After about 15 minutes, they were ready to go, so I basted them with Suzanne's Pepper Jelly and got a nice glaze on them. By looking at the picture on the right, you can see why that was the point when our mouths began to water. Unfortunately, if looks were all that mattered with judging wings, I would have a ton of places to get great wings, but that is not the case. So it was time to put it to the ultimate test... the mouth. Everyone sat down to give it a go, us with the wings and my wife with the tenders, ready to engorge ourselves in this glorious holiday. Let me start by saying that the combination of baking THEN grilling made the wings have such a tenderness and awesome flavor that you wouldn't get by grilling alone or the crispness by baking alone. On top of all this you have the pepper jelly that gave the wing such a sweet taste right off the bat and added a little fun by having the heat creep up at the end of each bite. It was the perfect kind of heat, too, as it sizzled your lips but wasn't overbearing. One pregnant friend of mine, who was cautious of the level of heat, wound up devouring her plate in mere minutes, it was so good. I have to get my wife to start eating real wings because even though she got to experience the jelly glaze, which she loved and wouldn't shut up about, she would not be able to enjoy the incredible flavors that the rest of the chicken brought to the table. Besides it's not called "National Chicken Anywayyouwantit Day."

The day slowly came to an end, disappointing as that may be, and the wings were all gone. Although I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate this day, my only regret is that I didn't make more... something I plan to remedy in the future. Suzanne's "Buffalo Wings In Hell" were so delicious that I had everyone begging me for the recipe which you can find here. Now, I've had Frank's time and time again, but it is the jelly from Suzanne's Kitchen that made this dish extraordinary. If you want to find out where to pick some up for yourself, check out the numerous locations that carry their pepper jelly by visiting the "BUY NOW" link. And if they are not in your area, make sure you demand it because otherwise you will be missing out.

It is always sad when good things come to a close... but it doesn't have to be that way for everybody. I say you go to the store, grab some ingredients, and cook up some wings of your own - this way we can make everyday a Chicken Wing Day!!!

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