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.