Sailorcurt’s Secret Hot Wing Sauce

Uncle linked to a new (to me) blog this morning including a link to their hot wing recipe.

I was very interested in their techniques because I consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of hot wings and have my own wing sauce that I’ve developed over the years that I’ve yet to find a rival for.

Like “Guns and Butter”, I start with pre-bottled cayenne pepper sauce as a base, but other than that, my technique is considerably different from theirs.  My sauce is the result of many iterations and experiments to come up with just the right combination of flavors to make the perfect (to me) sauce.   I do find their breading idea interesting so I may give that a try once to see what it does for the flavor.  I’ve never been fond of that in restaurants because they tend to bread too heavily, but Guns and Butter’s technique looks like it puts just a thin coat of breading on the wings, so it might be worth a try.

Anyway, I just thought the differences were interesting and I doubt that I’ll ever produce a cookbook, so it’s probably safe to share my “secret sauce” with the world…or at least with my half-dozen or so regular readers.

First, I’ve gotten away from using frozen chicken wing parts just because they’ve gotten so expensive.  I don’t raise and butcher my own (I would if it was legal here) like “Guns and Butter” does, but I can buy a package of fresh chicken wings for about $2.00 a pound and cut them up myself, whereas frozen wing sections generally run about $4.00 a pound these days.

Since starting that, I’ve noticed that not only do the wing parts cook faster when starting out already thawed, but they also seem to cook more evenly all the way through.  When cooking from frozen, it seems like to get the meat closest to the bone all the way done, you have to cook them so long that the outside gets a bit more done and crispy than I like.

Next, I don’t bread or season the wing parts before frying.  I just dump them in the oil as is…after cutting up and rinsing of course.

I use a “Presto” brand deep fryer with a basket…but hot oil is hot oil so that’s not a major difference.  I have tried grilling rather than frying to make the treat a bit healthier.  That works if you are health conscious, but it does change the flavor quite a bit.  I don’t think it’s as good that way, but different strokes for different folks and all that.

As far as the sauce…that’s where we really diverge.

A word about cayenne pepper sauce.  I tend to make hot wings a lot…especially during football season…because I like them so much.  As a result, I like to buy my sauce in quart jars.  When I used to be a customer of Costco, I’d buy Texas Pete in gallon jugs, but Texas Pete isn’t exactly my favorite sauce to use and I don’t use Costco any more (for reasons you’ll already know if you’re a regular reader here).

There are as many different brands of cayenne pepper sauce as you can imagine and every one of them has a slightly different flavor, and spiciness.  You can always make the sauce hotter when cooking, and it is possible to make it a bit milder if you need to, but it’s much easier to be consistent if you start out with the sauce base that is about the level that you like.

There is a brand called “Trappey’s Red Devil” that is an excellent mild sauce.  The only complaint I have about it is that it doesn’t seem to adhere to the chicken as well as some of the spicier sauces.  I’m wondering if “Guns and Butter’s” breading technique would help with that?

A nice medium sauce is a brand that I get at the local Fresh Pride grocery store.  It comes in a plain white label and is marked with the generic title “Louisiana Hot Sauce”.  I don’t remember the manufacturer right now and I don’t have a bottle on hand.  I’ll swing by the store in the next couple of days and pick up a bottle (I need some anyway) and update this post.

For a sauce that I consider “hot” I like to start with “Tapatio” hot sauce as the base.  Texas Pete works as a base for “hot”, but it’s a bit too vinegary tasting for me.

I’ve never found a sauce that, by itself, could be considered what restaurants would call “suicide”, so for something a bit more bold I also start out with Tapatio as the base and then add dried cayenne pepper (or, alternatively, habanero sauce) as needed to dial it up to the desired level.

The way I came to select those brands is by trial and error.  If you try one of them and it isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, try something else.  As I said, every brand has it’s own unique flavor and level of spice depending on how they make it.  All cayenne pepper sauces are not created equal.  Experimentation is the key to creating a custom sauce that you really enjoy.

Now, on to the actual recipe.   Please keep in mind that I rarely measure when cooking.  I tend to judge by color, smell, consistency or, (of course) taste when concocting my culinary pleasures…however in this case, I had a friend that wanted to try my sauce, so I measured everything in the process once and this is what I came up with.  You are (of course) free to adjust things to taste since all of these measurements are kind of “ballpark” in nature to begin with:

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cooking time:  20-30 minutes

Serves 2 normal people or one of me.

12 pieces of “chicken wing sections”.
3 Tablespoons of butter or margarine*
2 Cloves of fresh garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 small (about 2 tablespoons) fresh or frozen chopped jalapeno pepper**
1/2 teaspoon (packed) of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup Cayenne pepper sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

Optional:  Ground cayenne pepper or habanero sauce to taste to increase spiciness.

– Deep fry or grill chicken wing sections until golden brown and done through.
– While the chicken is cooking, melt butter or margarine in a 2 qt saucepan over medium-low heat.
– Stir in garlic, jalapeno and brown sugar.  Let cook until garlic and jalapeno pepper are soft and brown sugar is melted into the butter…about 3 minutes…stirring often. 
– Stir in Cayenne pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce and additional cayenne pepper or habenero sauce if desired.  Increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring often.
– Reduce heat to low and let simmer until slightly reduced…about 10 minutes…or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally.
– After chicken is done, allow excess oil to drain for a minute or two, then add chicken to sauce mixture, increase heat and stir chicken in sauce until all pieces are coated thoroughly and piping hot.
– Serve on plates or in bowls, with any remaining sauce drizzled over the chicken.
– Garnish with celery sticks and serve with Bleu Cheese or Ranch dressing for dipping…and plenty of napkins.

*you can add more butter or margarine to help mitigate the spiciness if the sauce you chose is too hot for you.  The change is kind of marginal unless you really add a LOT of butter, which changes the overall flavor…but, hey, you may like it better that way anyway.

**fresh jalapeno works best, but I grow my own in the summer and chop and freeze a good bit for use in hot wings and other cooking during the “off” months.  Frozen jalapenos work just fine.  You may substitute canned jalapeno as a last resort, but fresh or frozen will result in better flavor and texture.

This recipe is the result of years of experimentation and refinement and I’ve never found a hot wing sauce that I like better.  Most restaurant’s offerings pale in comparison to the wings that I make in my own kitchen with minimal effort and in 30 minutes or less.

During the 5 months of NFL football season, I make them virtually every Sunday and they are a perennial favorite that I’m specifically asked (sometimes begged) to bring to Superbowl parties every year.

Give them a try and let me know if you like them as much as I do.

3 thoughts on “Sailorcurt’s Secret Hot Wing Sauce

  1. Louisiana hot sauce has become a pretty generic term for cayenne pepper sauce. I don't think that's the brand I use because the label isn't the same.

    IIRC, I've tried Bruce's and it was pretty good, but more toward the "hot" end of the spectrum and I didn't like it as well as the Tapatio's

    I'll let you know in the next couple of days.

  2. Beautiful says, "If you can read, you can cook." Still, I don't cook. But I'd be happy to drop by for wings when I'm in your neighborhood!

    I grow serranos. Not quite as big as jalapenos, but everybit as good. I bread them and deep fry 'em. Or eat them right off the vine.

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