February 22, 2011

Q & A with Sous Chef Katie of Keg and Lantern

We were so impressed with our visit to Keg and Lantern in Greepoint, Brooklyn that I asked Sous Chef Katie if she would mind answering a few questions for us.  She happily obliged.  Enjoy:

Wingmen3:  What is the inspiration behind your stuffed wings?  Was there an epiphany moment or was it just a happy accident?

Katie:  I guess the inspiration for the wings came out of need ... and possibly a bit of ADD. At the last restaurant I worked in, we used to get our chicken breasts in skin, and wing attached. After cleaning and butterflying the breasts, I was left with a batch of wings attached to about 4 inches of skin (gross as it sounds - everyone knows crispy chicken skin is the most delicious part). Before I started working there, the wings were pan fried and baked as is and eaten as kitchen scraps or thrown out; but as I was in charge of food-costs, I was determined to use them as staff meal, and after some experimenting, came up with the idea of stuffing them - sometimes with leftovers, and sometimes as a treat for the staff with their favorite foods.

W:  Without giving away your trade secrets, how do you go about getting all that tasty food inside of a chicken wing?

K:  It's mostly a matter of splitting the wing enough to leave space for the stuffing, without actually breaking the joints.

W:  Why aren't more people doing this?  Is it because the word hasn't gotten out, or is it just too labor intensive?

K:  Both labor and food costs are prohibitive. People are only willing to spend so much on a wing, stuffed or not, so between the additional cost of the actuall stuffing, the staff time to do the stuffing, and the energy and labor for separate cooking, I imagine that even if the word DID get out, most people still wouldn't be doing it.

W:  What are your favorite foods to stuff inside chicken wings?

K:  Top 3 favorite fillings : Meatloaf and bacon, ham and swiss, mac and cheese (especially good wrapped in bacon before baking).

W:  Do you have any crazy concoctions you're thinking about trying in the future?

K:  Well, obviously the waffle fried version you guys inspired. How about a Turduckin version? Braised turkey wing stuffed with duck confit and buffalo chicken. I like that one.


If you're in the neighborhood, I highly recommend stopping in to Keg and Lantern to pay Katie a visit.  If you're lucky, the Chef will have the night off and you may get treated to some of the amazing combinations she mentions above.

February 18, 2011

Keg and Lantern

37 Greenpoint Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11222
This past Saturday, Red Star - a bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn - was hosting an event to crown the best wings in Brooklyn.  It seemed like the perfect event for The Wingmen to check out.  Not only would we finally put Brooklyn on the Wingmen map but three of the nine competitors have been recommended by readers on our Facebook page.  Unfortunately, Steve and Jeremy were busy with life and it looked like a bust.  However, at the very last minute I decided:  what the hell.  I grabbed my camera, sent Wingmen Field Taster* BJ a text and told him to meet me at the G train in LIC.

*I just made up that title, but BJ has been on a lot of wing missions with me now and is a little sensitive about not getting any credit.

BJ and I got off the train at Greenpoint Ave. and started hoofing it to Red Star.  We were stopped in our tracks when we turned the corner and saw the line to get in.  There were easily 400 people and the wait was at about 2 hours.  Yeah, I like you guys and all but I don't like you that much.  I looked at BJ and said, "shortest review ever".

This is what the line looked like.  No chance.  Sorry.

Luckily for us, our loss was our gain (or something like that).  While all of Brooklyn was waiting on line to get into Red Star, we decided to find a participating bar and taste their wings on their own turf.  I pulled up the flyer on my phone.  There was one competing bar (other than Red Star) in Greenpoint:  Keg and Lantern.  We were off.

95 Nassau Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11222

The place was cool.  It had a welcoming atmosphere and a friendly staff.  We found a couple of stools at the bar, ordered a couple of Brooklyn Lagers (what else?) and a plate of wings.  They were pretty good wings.  I'd file them under "traditional" with the hot sauce/butter combo.  They were a bit on the small side, but the flavor was great and they had a nice amount of heat.  It wasn't so hot that it was overwhelming, but the heat definitely made its presence known.  It seemed like a pretty average wing excursion, until Sous Chef Katie came out.  We had no idea what we were in for.

Katie was holding down the fort while the Chef was serving wings at the Red Star event.  She seemed indifferent when we started talking to her about the wings she made for us.  She let us know that her real specialty was her stuffed wings.  Wait... what?  Stuffed wings?  Yes please.  Katie seemed a little excited that she was able to peak our interest.  She told us that all of their stuffed wings were sent to Red Star and it would take her about a half hour to make a new batch from scratch.  We let her know we weren't going anywhere, and off she went to the kitchen.

About a beer later, Katie emerged with a small white plate with two chicken wings sitting on it.  At first I was a little confused.  Is this just a sample?  Are they that good that an order is only two wings?  She set the plate on the bar and just said "chicken cordon bleu".  Sure enough, one bite would reveal a wing stuffed with bacon and swiss cheese.  It was amazing.  Just the fact that we were eating wings stuffed with other food was great enough... but when that food is bacon... I was pretty sure we were going to have to retire the site.  I don't know how you top that.

On the menu, Keg and Lantern lists only one type of stuffed wing:  "Sin Filled Thai Wings", stuffed with Thai sausage and topped with sweet chili sauce.  But you know what they say... When the Chef is away, the Sous Chef will play.  Katie continued to treat us with her own concoctions and her special take on stuffed wings.  She brought out a few rounds, two at a time. It was like a Chef's tasting but with chicken wings.  It's definitely the classiest I've ever felt while eating pub grub, that's for sure.  Here was the lineup:

Course One:  Chicken Cordon Bleu (Bacon and Swiss)
Course Two:  Sauteed Onions and American Cheese
Course Three:  Bleu Cheese
Course Four:  Mac and Cheese with Hot Sauce
Course Five:  Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce

They were all so good.  None of them were overstuffed to the point of being overwhelming either.  There was just enough stuffing to give you a taste - a nice little burst of flavor when you bit into the wing.  I can't decide if I liked the bacon or the mac and cheese better.  One thing I do know though, these wings are very unique and unlike any I've ever eaten.  If you get a chance, definitely check them out.  I know BJ and I will definitely be back and we'll be bringing Jeremy and Steve with us.  Thanks Katie!

February 10, 2011

Search Feature Is A Go!!!

For those of you who were wondering when we'd add search technology to our site, the answer is NOW!!!  Yes Mike O., I'm talking to you!

If you are wondering if we've reviewed your favorite place, just type it into the search box on the top right of the page and you'll get your answer!

Enjoy and keep your eyes peeled for Wings To Go in New Jersey and Elijah Churchill's in Northport, NY.  They'll post soon, as well as others!

February 04, 2011

Kool Bloo

117 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013

I've worked across the street from the takeout/delivery joint Kool Bloo for about a year now.  I went there once when we first moved into the building... and hated it.  I take full responsibility though.  I ordered a shawarma sandwich from a place with nary a spit.  I should know better.  Still though, I've avoided this place since then.  Until today.  They advertise wings in huge letters on the outside of the building (which Steve noticed when he picked me up for our trip to Buffalo), so I guess it's about time I gave them a try.

The wings come in a combo deal that set me back $9.75.  It includes 5 wings and fries.  Not exactly a huge portion, but, as you may know from my last post, I'm not a fan of huge portions anyway.

Right from the first bite I could taste the recognizable combination of Frank's Red Hot Sauce and butter.  If I had to guess, I'd say the normal 1:1 ratio was slightly skewed in favor of the sauce, giving it a little extra heat.  There were also some added seasonings which kicked them up a bit.  The wings were relatively plump with a decent amount of meat, but very little (if any) crisp in the skin.  These were pretty average across the board.  I wasn't disappointed because I didn't have high hopes, but I wouldn't go out of my way for them either.  Put simply:  they'll do.

The fries on the other hand, those were good.  I'm getting those again.