With Super Bowl Sunday just four days away, football partiers are already planning their annual gatherings. Wings are one food that will be flying high.
The National Chicken Council projects that 1 billion wing portions will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend, which is more than 90 million pounds of wings.
Bud's in Brainerd, 5751 Brainerd Road, goes through two tons of wings in an average month, according to kitchen manager Mark Dillon. The Super Bowl always puts February's numbers above average. This weekend, he said, he expects to cook more than half a ton of wings.
"People order them for takeout parties at home, as well as to eat here in the restaurant while they watch the game here," he said.
Dillon said the best wings are cooked first, then fried. If you cook them from start to finish in the fryer, it takes longer and the chicken can overcook. Baking them first, until they are mostly done, gets them cooked through. Then you can finish them off in the fryer to crisp them up.
There's no need to marinate or add a rub, unless you choose to, he said, and there's no need to bread them either. Once cooked, they just need a good dunk in hot sauce, though Dillon advises serving it on the side rather than slathered all over the wings.
"Some people have sensitive palates and can't take the hot sauce," he said. "They say the more wings they eat, the hotter they get."
Serve the wings with celery and blue cheese or ranch dressing-something cool to balance the heat.
With the wings good to go, you might opt for tater skins, another favorite Super Bowl munchie.
Chad Danner, kitchen manager of T-Bones at 1419 Chestnut St., said tater skins are simple to make. Just get the right size potatoes, scrub them clean, then bake them.
"When tender, scoop out the potato, leaving an empty skin. Put the skins on a baking sheet, brush with butter or oil and return them to the oven, skin side up, at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly crisp. These can be done ahead in advance.
"When ready to serve, fill the cavities with cheese and bacon or shredded barbecue pork, a favorite option at T-Bones, then return them to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted," Danner said.
He added that a variety of cheeses can be used, so you might want to consider offering different flavors, such as Swiss or pepper Jack. Plate them up with sour cream and chopped chives on the side.
Serve them alongside a platterful of wings, and your Super Bowl feast is well on its way.