May 31, 2010

Grilled Hot Wings with Wingredient Sauce

Grilled Hot Wings on the Barbecue
Featuring: Wingredient Hot and Mild Sauces
Award Winning Sauce for Buffalo Wings

It's Memorial Day and I am going to a BBQ later in the day, so I decided to make my own wings for lunch. I surfed the internet for a few recipes, but then remembered that Bryan Deats, the maker of Wingredient Sauces and fellow Wingman, sent some samples of his Hot and Mild sauces a few months back. I have been sitting on them for a while now and decided that I would give his sauces a try. What can be better than hot wings fresh off the barbecue and a beer on Memorial Day? Not much, I tell you, not much.

I grabbed some raw wings, a bit of flour, some celery and Bryan's sauces and headed out to the barbecue. I started by putting two small trays on the grill and put the hot sauce in one of them and the mild in the other. Once they were simmering, I added 7 raw, floured wings to each tray. After they simmered in the sauce for about 10 minutes, I transferred them to the grill at medium heat. I cooked them for a while on each side and dipped them again into the sauce trays. I put them back on the grill until they were crispy and a bit charred on the outside, then I plated them.

They were smoking hot, so I added the celery, opened a beer and gave them a minute to cool off a bit. They smelled delicious. The smell of spice coming off them actually made me tear a bit when the smoke from the barbecue got in my eyes and when I sat in front of my plate and took a sniff, my nose began to run. I couldn't wait to dig in and see what Wingredient Sauce tasted like.

Wingredient has to be one of the tastiest sauces I have ever tried. I will be honest, other than a bit of red pepper, cayenne, and a few other easily recognizable spices, I am not sure what Bryan uses to make his sauces. They were samples, so they did not have ingredient labels on them. But I really don't care, the careful mixture of flavors and spices are very well done. The sauce has the perfect consistency, stuck to the wing perfectly and coated your fingers quite well. Finger licking good is an understatement. After eating a few hot wings, I did not have any idea if I were eating the hot or mild sauce because my mouth was burning and nose was running. I also didn't care, they both were good enough for it to not matter. They weren't prohibitively hot, so finishing all fourteen wings was no problem.

I suggest becoming a fan or someone who "likes" Wingredient on Facebook. Bryan makes a few batches of his wing sauce a year and sends them out to interested wing enthusiasts. Thank you Bryan Deats for the amazing sauce! I can see why you have won awards for your hard work. Delicious.

I also have to say thank you to everyone who has or is currently serving our country! Come home safe and Happy Memorial Day! The Wingmen salute you!

May 26, 2010

The Shack

The Shack
"Clams and Chaos"
1 Stony Hollow Road
(Route 25 A)
Centerport, NY 11721

The Shack is a local roadside eatery on Northern Blvd. in Centerport. It is a favorite in the area and, when open, is always packed. I say "when open" because it is a summer hangout. It opens in April and closes in early fall. As long as the weather is nice, it is open, but if it rains, don't expect to get food from The Shack, there is no indoor seating. It truly is a roadside shack with a kitchen. There are a lot of picnic tables and some counter seating so if you go in a group or alone, you will feel comfortable eating there.

The Shack was a biker bar 20-odd years ago, but was bought out and renamed. They went from burgers and apps to seafood, pasta, salads, soups and burgers and apps. You will still find lots of bikers stopping there for a meal, but The Shack caters to a much larger clientele nowadays. Being on the north shore of Long Island, The Shack brings together people from all socio-economic backgrounds for good food. I don't care who you are, good food is just that, good food.

Now for the wings. On the menu you can order, and I quote, "A Classic... Shack 'Buffalo Wings' with celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing," so I did just that. I also ordered some onion rings. They came out piping hot, and looked a bit different than normal wings. The Shack deep fries the wings naked, plates them (and by plates I mean puts them in paper trays) and then adds the hot sauce. They then garnish them with some fresh parsley sprinkled on top. The wings were crispy, very juicy on the inside and were pretty big. There were about 10 wings and a few stalks of celery to the order.

How did they taste? I personally prefer the wings to be completely coated in hot sauce. I want every ounce of the wing to be covered so that no matter where I grab the wing, my fingers will be sticky. At The Shack my fingers did not get all that sticky, which is a minus in my book. Also, I am pretty sure they use a generic hot sauce. This is only bad if it tastes bad, which it definitely did not, but making a "Shack" hot sauce would be a solid idea. I am sure they could come up with one, bottle it and sell it on the website. All that being said, they were pretty good wings. They were spicy, but did not kill your mouth, they were big enough to fill you up and cooked well and quickly. The onion rings were also quite good and they have a pretty extensive beer selection.

I really don't think you can miss at The Shack. The prices are a bit high ($9.95 for the order of about 10 wings), but it is the north shore of Long Island, so you have to expect the prices will be a bit higher. The staff was friendly, helpful and quick. All in all, this was a great Saturday afternoon and I can't wait to try their burgers! As I sat there, I saw a bunch come out and they looked pretty damn good. So if you are enjoying a nice scenic drive along the Long Island Sound on Route 25A and want a good bite to eat, The Shack is good place to do just that.

May 24, 2010

Chicken Holiday

Chicken Holiday
1203 Grand Avenue
Baldwin, NY 11510
Maps and Directions

I am not quite as lucky as Jody is... he gets to walk through Manhattan, stare at the skyline, enjoy people watching, sit down at sidewalk cafes and find places to grab wings for lunch. I drive through Baldwin on the south shore of Long Island... not the prettiest area. There is nothing wrong with Baldwin, but it sure as hell does not compare to Manhattan. Jody... you lucky son of a gun.

As you head off Exit 20 South on the Southern State Parkway there is a small strip mall about a half a mile from the parkway on the east side. It has a good deli, decent chinese food (with surprisingly good sushi), decent pizza and a few other shops. There is also a fried chicken joint called Chicken Holiday. It is a franchise chicken place, but being individually owned and operated, they are free to change up the menu any way they see fit, the complete opposite of how McDonalds runs their franchises (McDonalds fries that you eat in NY taste the same as they do in Cali, London and Moscow. Quality control for the whole company and all of the franchises). I was anxious to see how they handled their buffalo wings.

I ran out for a late lunch and ordered 8 Buffalo Style Wings with a side of french fries and grabbed a seat at one of the two available tables. Chicken Holiday is not a very large restaurant and only has the 2 tables for dining in. I wanted to eat in and not rush back to work, so I was lucky enough to find the place empty. It was, as I said, a late lunch, so I am assuming the lunch rush was over. My food came out in about 10 minutes and I was a little surprised when I opened the Styrofoam container with my lunch.

I found 8 relatively small, not tiny, but small breaded and fried chicken wings. They came with two plastic cups; one with hot sauce and one with bleu cheese. I did not realize that "Buffalo Style Wings" means "Do-It-Yourself" at Chicken Holiday. But hey, what kind of Wingman would I be if I were afraid of a little work? Not very much of one, I dare say. So I dipped my wings in the hot sauce and then the bleu cheese and then ate them.

What did I think? Well, they were definitely forgettable as Buffalo Wings. The hot sauce had to have come out of a large economy sized plastic container and was not home-made. So think about taking your KFC and dipping it in Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Same concept. Not a bad concept, but not a true buffalo wing. As fried chicken wings, they were good. I love fried chicken and this place makes some damn good fried chicken.

When you get down to it, they were crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and piping hot when I started to eat them. The breading was very well made and they tasted delicious. Even the generic hot sauce was decent. All in all, a forgettable buffalo wing experience, but a very good chicken wing outing.

The intangibles: Price wise, Chicken Holiday is on the high side for wings. 8 wings for $6.75, 16 wings for $12.99, 24 wings for $19.49 and 48 wings for $38.99. Thats $.84 per wing for the small meal and about $.81 for a lot of fried chicken wings with a tub of hot sauce. So you seem to pay extra to do the work yourself. The staff were great, very friendly and eager to help. The place is small, but it is very clean and they have a television so people waiting for their to-go orders can watch as they wait.

So, you want to know the absolute worst thing about this place? It is their website! It the most annoying website ever. The chicken dance starts softly in the background and then progressively gets louder... luckily there is a stop button on the page. Other than that, is it just a very busy site, like someone took everything they know about moving .gifs and flash and just threw it on one page. Visit the restaurant, not the website.

May 21, 2010

Dirty Canz Wings

I've been holding out on you guys for a while now. Ends up, I've had video on my phone of Steve and Bryan eating the Dirty Canz Wings at Canz Restaurant and Bar and I totally forgot all about it. I just happened to be flipping through my videos yesterday and saw them. So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you these:

May 19, 2010

Lisa's Buffalo Grille

Lisa's Buffalo Grille
65 Broadway
Greenlawn, NY 11740

I moved to the Centerport area of Long Island almost a year and a half ago, and the best non-fast food, fast food in the area is Lisa's Buffalo Grille in Greenlawn. It is a very small shop with limited seating and lots of people coming in and out placing and leaving with take-out orders. I have never seen the place slow. The phone is always ringing, people are always there and the staff seems to never stop working. They have a very nice menu of wraps, burgers, sandwiches, salads and fried appetizers. My wife and her family love the Buffalo Grille, I on the other hand am not a huge fan. The food has been good, but not that good. I don't mind eating there, but it is never high on my list of places to stop when we don't feel like cooking.

So when I was driving home thinking of where to go for wings, the Buffalo Grille never even crossed my mind. I was going to stop at Nicky's again, but as I thought about Nicky's great wings, I remembered the conversation I had with the young couple at the bar and recalled their recommendation of the Buffalo Grille's wings. So I stopped at Lisa's and ordered up some wings.

I placed an order for 12 hot wings and 12 honey mustard wings. I ordered them to-go because I just wanted to get home and relax. It had been a long day and all I could think about was popping open a Blue Moon, eating up on some wings and watching a little House or CSI (Las Vegas) on my DVR. A night to relax always gets better with wings, beer and good television shows. As I waited for the wings to be cooked, I got more excited about my evening.

Lisa's Buffalo Grille was, as I had explained, packed. There were at least 10 pick-up orders ready and waiting for people to pick them up, 3 of the maybe 10 tables had dine-in customers and there was a line 7 people long ordering food to-go or picking up their orders. I was towards to front of that line, so I got my order in and then waited for about 20 minutes for them to be ready. I should have called ahead, the number is in my Blackberry... oh well.

I grabbed my wings and went home. Opened the beer, flipped on the TV, grabbed some napkins and started to chow down on my 24 wings. They were great! Big, juicy, coated in sauce and perfectly cooked. They were super crispy, which was a huge surprise because they had sat in the Styrofoam containers for close to 10 minutes on the drive home. I was very pleasantly surprised. As for the sauces, the hot were HOT. I mean these had to be some of the hottest wings I have had that actually had taste to them. There was nothing surprising about the recipe, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and butter, but their mixture of those ingredients is better than almost any wing I have had. I know, bold statement, but these were damn good. I only ate 10 of the hot wings because I was full from the 12 honey mustard wings, but the heat also started to get to me. That doesn't normally happen from a buffalo wing; Dirty Canz Wings, yes, normal hot wing, no. The honey mustard wings were also some of the best I have ever had. I still like the West Taghkanic Diner's honey mustard wings better, but these were a very close second. If you are into honey mustard wings, I suggest trying these, you won't be disappointed.

The prices are also really good here. 12 wings for $6.95, 24 wings for $11.95, 60 wings for $28.00 and 120 wings for $53.50. That is $.58 per wing on the high side and $.45 per wing on the low. You only get better prices than that at wing nights. They also come in the following flavors: Mild, Medium, Hot, Blazin', Ragin' and Inferno on the spicy side and Honey Mustard, Honey BBQ, Cajun, Teriyaki, and Bold BBQ on the savory side. Looks like I have a trip or two left to try the other flavors. Everything else on the menu is also priced well, so you really can't beat Lisa's Buffalo Grille when you want good food and don't want to spend a lot (wow... I sound like a commercial spokes person). In all seriousness, I have a new appreciation for the Buffalo Grille. I will eat their wings again... probably soon.

I do suggest taking any food you get there to-go. The majority of the crowd that eats in the restaurant are teenagers from the local area. They are pretty loud and having a good time. I have no problem with it, but I am passed the point in my life where I want 15 to 20 teenagers running around the tables as I try to enjoy a meal. I also think that the constant ringing of the phone, people walking in and out placing and picking up orders and the people milling around waiting for their food to be ready (like I was that night) could get very annoying while eating.

They also supply the wings for Off Broadway's wing night in Greenlawn. It makes sense since Off Broadway supposedly does not have a kitchen and is owned by the same people as Lisa's Buffalo Grille. I will try and go to Off Broadway's wing night soon and do a review. I'd like to know how the wings hold up when traveling across the street.

May 17, 2010

Manny's On Second

Manny's On Second
1770 2nd Avenue
Between 92nd and 93rd
New York, NY 10128

Friday night, Manhattan, a bit of a spring chill in the air, but an otherwise gorgeous May evening. New York City is a mecca that The Wingmen have yet to truly explore, but to truly explore this plethora of dining locations would take a lifetime. There seems to be an infinite number of bars, restaurants, diners, pubs, take-out joints and sidewalk carts to satisfy any craving one may have, including those of you hankering for wings.

Jody and I were on a mini-mission to hit at least two places that serve wings that night. It didn't seem right doing a real big NYC review sans Jeremy. We need a full crew to not do this amazing island dirty. As you read earlier this week, we hit 1849 in the Village first and then took off with BJ and Dina to Manny's on the Upper East Side.

In our younger days, BJ and I would hang out in this area a lot (BJ still does... me, not so much). We would frequent Blondie's (which is now Manny's) and the Big Easy (which is now out of business and vacant... and also where Jeremy obtained the best wing stain ever! Ask him about it). I was a little sad when I saw how desolate the place looked when we got there. Manny's has a temporary sign on the front, the Big Easy was boarded up and the street seems to be under some major construction... hence no picture of the front of Manny's. I just couldn't get a good shot of the place and their website does not have one either, it seems that they had the same issue. It is not the prettiest part of Manhattan right now, but I assure you, this area can be a lot of fun.
Manny's On Second's wings are really good. Just look at that picture on top of this post! We ordered the buffalo wings, hot. They are coated in hot sauce, the aroma as they waft by your nose can be felt in your throat and they were big wings. Not the biggest we have had, but big. The sauce was buttery and spicy and all those things you would expect from really good hot wings. They were so sauced up that you were a mess when you finished them, but they tasted so good, you really didn't mind.
As for value, well, you are in Manhattan, so it is hard to measure value, but they are still under a buck a wing, so that can be considered a win. 10 wings for $9.95, 20 wings for $17.95, 50 wings (up to 2 sauces) for $39.95 and 100 wings (up to 4 sauces) for $69.95. You can choose from Honey BBQ or Buffalo. The Buffalo sauce come in Mild, Medium, Hot or Scorchin. They come with bleu cheese, celery and carrot sticks.
I suggest trying Manny's On Second. They have a good beer selection, usually a really cool crowd hanging out there, better than solid wings and Beer Pong tables upstairs. Yes, Beer Pong Tables in the bar! It seems they picked up where The Big Easy left off and kept Beer Pong on the Upper East Side. They supply the cups and balls, you just have to buy the pitchers. So order up some wings, buy some pitchers and challenge some friends (or strangers) to a good ol' game of Beer Pong!

May 13, 2010


183 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10012

Last Friday, Steve schlepped into the city and met me at work. We wanted to hit a couple of top notch wing spots - no, the best wing spots. Whenever I ask Google to tell me who has the best wings in New York City, I end up seeing a slue of different pubs and dive bars. It's a little daunting. There are 23 square miles packed with all kinds of places to choose from, and everyone has their favorite. I did seem to notice a couple of places that were mentioned more than others though. My less than scientific research told me that if we were to hit two places that night (and that was our plan), we should try 1849 in The Village and Blondie's on the Upper West Side. We didn't exactly make it to Blondie's. We actually ended up at Manny's on the Upper East Side which used to be Blondie's but...well, Steve will tell you all about it. He's got that review. First though, we hoofed it over to The Village to check out 1849.

As you can probably tell by the name, 1849 has an old Western gold rush theme. It might sound a little gimmicky, like something you'd see in Times Square, but I thought it actually worked well and was a cozy place. Instead of a bunch of tables set up outside of the bar area, 1849 has plush couches and ottomans set up in circles. It was a little more comfortable than your standard pub and probably not a bad spot to settle in for the night. Adding to the mood are buffalo heads mounted on the wall and antler chandeliers dangling from the ceiling... so, you know, they've got that going for them.

On to the wings. We started out slow. If we were going to sample multiple spots, we'd have to pace ourselves. We ordered a plate of the "Gold Rush" wings and a couple of beers. It's worth pointing out that the waitress was pretty helpful here. Steve is a big fan of Hoegaarden, which is a wheat beer and not all that common on tap. He asked the waitress what they had that was similar and she gave a couple of recommendations. I always like when you can talk beer with a bartender/waiter like people talk about wine because, well, you should be able to do that. Anyway, the wings came out and they had a very familiar taste.

They were tender, well cooked, flavorful and lightly breaded. Yup, we each took one bite and thought, "Hooters". I do think they're a little better than Hooter's wings. The breading is a little lighter and they are not as greasy. So for all of you guys who tell your GF's/wives that you only go to Hooters for the food, you may not want to mention this place to them. Better wings, no orange shorts. But if you don't like Hooters wings, or just breaded wings in general, you're probably going to want to stay away from these. I do like breaded wings though - I know, I know... blasphemy. Don't worry, I think they're better "naked" as they say, but it's nice to mix it up every once in a while. We both enjoyed them and should have stopped there and moved on to Blondie's, er, Manny's. But of course, we didn't.

The lightly breaded Gold Rush wings.

Against our better judgement and our prior experiences with BBQ wings, we decided to order a plate of their other flavor. This is where Steve and I have differing opinions. He thought they were too sweet and pretty awful. I thought they were the best BBQ wings we've had so far. I also believe that the best BBQ is still worse than the worst Teriyaki (maybe a bit of an exaggeration) but all-in-all I still thought they were pretty decent. I definitely prefer the Gold Rush, but I'd eat the BBQ again.

Our nemesis, the BBQ wing. I thought they were ok... Steve? Not so much.

Were these the best wings in NYC? Probably not. But they were good, the beer selection was large, flat screen TV's were showing all the local sports teams in action, the juke box was playing good music and it was an overall cool environment. I'll be back. That's the thing though... it's probably going to be impossible to find the best wings in NYC. But we sure can have a good time trying. Would Manny's be any better? We grabbed our metro cards and headed out the door to find out...

May 10, 2010

Pluck U.

Pluck U.
Wings & Things
230 Thompson St.
New York, NY 10012

This was another lunch time mission for me. I've pretty much been given the responsibility to take care of as many NYC wing joints as I can, so I grabbed a work buddy and we headed off to The Village. We got to Pluck U. and it was a total dive - small, dirty and awesome. I was pumped. There were "Best Wings in NYC" awards hanging all over the place and I felt like we were on to something. Apparently they had the highest rated wings in NYC six years running. So were my hopes high? Abso-plucking-lutely.

You have to love the story behind this place. It's the age old fairy tale of two friends in college turning down lucrative offers after graduation to start a less than prestigious business venture - and succeeding. I also love the menu. It is full of all kinds of combo meals - 5 wings, fries and a drink ($6.50), 10 wings, fries and a drink ($9.85), etc. Unfortunately, this is where my troubles began.

They have a decent variety of flavors (mild, medium, hot, death, BBQ, honey mustard, gold and 0 carb [huh?]) and I wanted to at least give two of them a try. I asked the woman at the counter if I could break the 10 wing combo into two portions of five. When she told me I couldn't do that, I said I would take the 5 wing combo with an extra order of 5 wings. Thinking back now, it makes no sense that I can order two separate orders of 5, but not break the 10 wing combo in half - but whatever. The woman was friendly enough and wanted to save me some money, I guess. She tried persuading me into an order of 10 wings, dry, with the sauces on the side (which was just over a dollar cheaper than my 5 plus 5 idea). I had a bad feeling about it but she was very persistent. Add that to the language barrier and the fact that I wasn't really sure what she was doing at the time and... well, I got a little flustered and went with her suggestion. It would prove to be a huge mistake - one demerit for me. My order: 10 wings dry with a side of hot sauce and honey mustard, fries and a coke.

Nice lady, but her effort to save me a buck and change came back to bite me.

We got back to the office and I got down to business. I separated my wings into two groups of five, poured the sauce on and gave them a toss - still confused as to why they couldn't do it in the kitchen. First up, the hot. I took a bite and... what the pluck? Is this - ? No, can't be. Another bite. Yup... tastes like ketchup! Who does that? I'll tell you who does that, Johnny Famous. And if you've been following along at home, you know we've got a saying: "At least they're not Johnny Famous bad" (or something like that). Well these were, in fact, Johnny Famous bad. But it gets worse. While Johnny Famous had the worst sauce we came across, they were cooked alright. The worst cooked wing award, so far, goes to CJ Sullivan's. Pluck U wings were not cooked as poorly as Sullivan's wings, but they were damn close - totally dried out and crispy. So I'd actually describe these as a combo of the two worst wings we've had so far. The sauce wasn't as bad as Johnny Famous, and they weren't as dry as Sullivan's but put them both together and it's just a sorry wing.

On to the honey mustard. It's almost impossible for me to even review these. First of all, they only gave me one little cup of sauce. Again, I'm the idiot who caved and got the sauces on the side but come on. You have to at least give enough to give the wings a nice coat. I ended up eating half of them dry. It wouldn't even make sense to critique the sauce anyway. It's not like they made it. It came in a little Ken's Steakhouse Dressing container.

Overall, I thought Pluck U had a resemblance to Atomic Wings. Take-out/delivery spot catering specifically to wing lovers and serving mediocre poultry. I'd definitely put Pluck U a rung under Atomic Wings though, mostly due to the awful hot sauce. The fries were actually pretty decent though. And walking from Soho to The Village on a nice day is always a good way to spend a few minutes. Maybe it was just me though. What about my co-worker, Chris? He actually sent me this email right after he finished:

fries- not bad
walk-well worth it"

To which I replied:

"couldn't agree with you more. did your sauce taste like spicy ketchup?"

He followed with:

"YES!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn't put my finger on what it was but that's exactly it."

Ok, so it wasn't just me then. But now the real question is, who the hell gave these guys the "Best Wings in NYC" award? Six years in a row! I bet they don't even make the best wings on Bleecker St. So would I recommend this place, or even go back to give them a chance at redemption? Pluck no!

Yup, that's all the sauce they gave me to coat 10 wings.

May 04, 2010

Lauren's* Adirondack Red Wing Burgers

My beautiful wife texted me asking when I was coming home from work. I tend to work late, but I was able to escape a bit early and she told me that she was going to make Adirondack Red Wing Burgers for dinner. Knowing my love for buffalo wings, and being a huge supporter of The Wingmen, she knew this would get me to come home even faster. It worked. I am nothing but predictable.

My whole drive home I was completely intrigued. I had no idea what to expect other than a buffalo wing inspired burger. I kind of thought they would be beef, then said to myself, "don't be an idiot, it will be a chicken pattie," and then thought, does it really matter, it will be a burger of some sort with hot sauce. How can it be anything but brilliant?

When I got home, she had just began making them, so I was able see the whole process. She started with ground chicken meat and added sauteed onions, carrots and celery to the meat. She made them into patties and pan fried them in olive oil. When they were just about ready, she removed them from the pan and then melted butter in the pan and poured in some hot sauce. When the hot sauce and butter blended together, she put the burgers back in the pan and cooked them a bit longer on each side. They absorbed the hot sauce and then she covered them with crumpled bleu cheese and a slice of cheddar. When the cheeses were melted, she put them on large toasted English muffins. The bottom half of the English muffin was lined with shredded lettuce and the burger was placed on top of it. She then finished the meal off with corn and French fries.

This was an amazing burger. First of all, chicken meat is just juicier than turkey meat and the blended tastes of the sauteed veggies, cheeses, chicken and butter hot sauce were perfect together. I have not eaten a burger like that in my life and really feel that I have been deprived. If I could think of any way to improve the burger, it would be to make it hotter (I know, shocker right?). The butter hot sauce did not absorb into the burger as much as I would have liked, but a solution was found that night. The hot sauce left in the pan was collected and poured over the burger and the English muffin. This gave the meal a much better kick. So if you try to make these yourself, do not toss the Hot Sauce!
All in all, this is a Wingmen approved recipe! Thanks for the great dinner baby!

* My wife wants me to mention that she found this recipe on the Racheal Ray website.