It’s that time of the year again – football season. The leaves are changing, jerseys are coming out and diners are gravitating towards their local sports bar or restaurant to catch the game. While the standard chicken wing will do just fine, remember that they don’t have to be boring. Look to exotic sauces and new flavor trends for inspiration that will make your wings as exciting as the big game.
The easiest way to think about experimenting with your wings is in three parts: the wings, the sauce and the “accessories”. Let’s start with the wings. Don’t just limit yourself to bone-in chicken – go beyond. Some chefs are exploring grilled boneless chicken, pork shanks or even shrimp. New “breading” such as ramen noodles, as seen on the Today Show, are also making appearances. For a vegetarian twist, you might even experiment with buffalo cauliflower bites.
Now for the sauce, look to global inspiration and turn up the heat with exotic chili peppers and regional spices. Jason Hall, executive chef of Max’s Wine Dive in Atlanta, gravitates towards global flavors and looks to flavors like chipotle aioli and cilantro chimichurri sauce. “[Chimichurri] is great because it contains olive oil, vinegar, lots of strong flavors from the herbs and garlic,” said Hall.
According to Datassential Menu Trends, Sriracha, a hot sauce named after a coastal city in Thailand, and chimichurri, an Argentinian sauce, top the list of fast-growing flavors. NRN reports that both sauces have grown more than 100 percent on menus since 2013.
Once you have the sauce down, choose some more unique pairings to compliment your flavors. Tired of celery and ranch? Get your cool down from veggies like cucumbers or jicama and alternative dips like Greek Tzaziki or other yogurt-based dressings.
No matter how you dress it up, don’t underestimate the power of the chicken wing. Last year, Americans ate more than 1 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl weekend alone. Some wonder when Americans will get bored of wings, but the industry doesn’t think that dip will occur any time soon. According to Forbes, the USDA predicts a 3 percent increase in chicken production in 2015. Consumers are looking for excitement in their food, especially when it comes to heat and adding that exotic spin. Although if you’re looking for a classic, starter recipe, try out our buffalo wings to get into game mode and personalize them for your own taste touch down. Go team!