Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Preparing for the big game? Where to grab wings that soar

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 8:52 AM

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There are few things that pair better with football than chicken wings. What is it about watching hulking, brutish men crack skulls that makes me want to rip the flesh off chicken bones? But the entire ordeal—licking sticky wing sauce off your fingers, dipping things in bleu cheese dressing—is as much a part of the ideal gameday party as halftime shows and Doritos commercials. Now, I hear there is some game on this weekend...I'll be watching, but at this point, I'm more concerned about what I'll be eating.

What's the winning formula for the perfect wings? It's simple, really. First, meaty, plump chicken wings. Nothing worse than piling your plate high with wings, only to find out you've been duped, and left with a mountain of inedible bone and cartilage. Second, a proper degree of saucing. Not so much as to overwhelm the chicken, but enough to get your tongue aroused and your fingers left with a thin coating after each bite. Third, proper cooking. Some are fried, some are baked or smoked, but whatever the method, the goal is to achieve tender, juicy meat which easily peels from the bone and a small amount of crunchy, crisped skin on its exterior.

We've heard a decent amount of chatter among commenters about wings since Michael elaborated on the merits of The Tavern Sports Grill in WLR a few weeks ago. While I've yet to confirm these findings, I’m certainly interested in finding the best wings in central Arkansas. I've found excellent wings at the NLR favorite, Chicken King, and I'm fairly certain their business will be booming up this weekend. I'm sure there are great wings to be had all over Little Rock, but I now feel prompted to express my love for some of my favorite: the honey-chile-sesame wings from ZAZA.

I realize that I probably come off as a bit of a cheerleader for this Heights favorite. I've probably done enough promotion for them amongst my friends to warrant a small place on their payroll, but the fact remains: these guys do things right, and their wings—one of my more recent explorations—are no exception. The honey-chile-sesame wings meet all the above mentioned criteria with ease. Soft, tender white meat, with crispy bits of skin speckling the surface of the wing. But that sauce...oh lawdy, is that a beautiful sauce. It might be classified as Asian-inspired, but the combination of sweet honey, spicy chile, and salty chicken skin plays so well in this instance with the subtle nutty tones of sesame, you'll be sucking your fingers for hours after the wings are gone in hopes that you'll find a speck of that sauce left over. Stick with bleu cheese as well, its sharp, tangy flavor is far superior to mere ranch.

If you are eating wings this weekend, where will you be grabbing them? Good wings at a Superbowl party are sure to win you a load of friends...and that's a lot more winning than the Ravens will see.

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