Saturday, June 16, 2018

Buffalo Wings Sous-Vide

Who doesn't like hot wings. This post is not about sauces or anything like that but more about what it takes to make a crap load of wings. I was tasked with the job (loved and enjoyed every moment) to cater my daughters surprise B-Day party. It was a big day and it was her 18 th B-day so I needed to go above and beyond. I was going to be serving 25 people. In addition to the Hot Wings I made 14 lbs of Tri-Tip using my Ultimate recipe.  You have't had Tri-Tip until you have made it my way. I've eaten a lot of Tri-Tip over the years and I can tell you first hand it's flavorful and not tender. You must slice very thin to even enjoy the cut. Alas not enough about Tri-Tip lets talk about Wings. 

So last time I made these many Hot-Wings it was to celebrate her third birthday. Don't mistake what I am saying I've made wings since but not this many. On her third Birthday I made exactly 120 Hot wings with 6 different sauces. Back than I was not yet into Sou-Vide so I did them the old fashion way. I soaked all the wings in buttermilk, hot sauce and spices. The following day I fried them all up using simple flour and a 20 quart stock pot. I was able to fry 30 wings at a time and it took exactly 8 minutes. I don't recall the temp but it was likely 350℉. Cooking these wings using the Sous-Vide method has it's advantages. For one thing the fat renders very nicely, they are precooked and pasteurized. Since they are precooked the time to fry them to a golden brown is reduced by 75-80%… which means it only took about 2 minutes to fry at 350℉. 

I purchased the wings from Costco and although they were adequate they were not very plump. Anyhow I purchased 14 lbs (precise 13.74 lbs). That container you're looking at is 18 x 26 x 6. I inspected all the wings too. 

I am a huge fan of dry-brining proteins. You can either sprinkle on salt or use a rub of your choice. I used some salt and some herbs and spices (Future wings Salt only). I did not measure. Dry-Brining denatures the proteins strands and allows for more moisture retention during the cook process. Anyhow they will dry-brine for 24 hours.

Vacuum seal in a single layer to ensure even cooking. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours to dry-brine. Dry-brining is optional but I highly recommend this step.

They were SV at 145℉ for 4 hours. This ensures a few things which are pasteurization, low and slow converts collagen into gelatin which makes them tender and renders fat. Don't for get you get to do all of this in advance. Make sure your container is large enough to ensure proper water circulation around the bags. Over crowding is a NO NO. I am using my 49 liter container. This picture to the left is the finished product. Container was filled with ice water and a ton of ice to shock. 

So normally I shock until the protein is very cold so I can refrigerate. With this technique you do not want to do that. If they become very cold they all the fat will congeal and the chicken will cling to one another. You need to remove them from the bags right before the congealing happens. If there's a lot of crap on them make sure to rinse under cold water. Anyhow I place them all on paper towels and dried as well as I could. I then placed then all on wired racks in front of a small fan. I wanted to dry them as well as I could before placing them in the refrigerator. 
The container in the picture is a perforated container (18 x 26 x 6) to allow for air circulation. I wanted them a little more dry before I proceeded to the next step. They sat in the refrigerator for about 12 hours or so. Yes, I have a commercial refrigerator. Note: Wife not happy with garage. I have 3 units and I am about to buy a 4 th.
This next step I did not create or invent. I've seen it on many blogs and many food sites. Before I move on let's talk about preference and technique a bit. Buffalo wings for some is a religious experience meaning they take on a dogmatic approach and an orthodoxy that has no compromise. Here's one example that I came across…"The Perfect Buffalo Wing Shall Have No Artificial Coating. No Breading, Batter, Starchy Dusting, Nothing. It shall be skin alone that gives it its crispness" That's not me…. I say do what  makes you happy and gives you that perfect wing that is in concert with your happy place. That being said this is just one example or one technique to make a great wing. There are many others out there. Here's one that I found intriguing…. Twice cooked aka Double Fried. Similar to the french fry. Anyhow Baking Powder is the key ingredient (Do Not Use Baking Soda). Baking powder is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate, cream of tarter (which is Potassium bitartrate) and cornstarch. Two acids and a filler creates magic. Anyhow when the chicken is coated with the BP the skins dries out leaving crispy and crunchy potential. It's all about the PH and science. Raising the PH makes everything more alkaline thus allowing the peptide bonds in the skin to break down letting the skin get more crisp, blistering and gives the wing more crunch. 

So what to do? I've seen many recipes that call for 1 or 2 tsp per pound. I was dealing with 14 lbs so I winged it….pun intended. I place some BP in a shaker can and lightly dusted the wings. I then used my hands (with gloves) and mixed them all up. To be honest I think I under coated them. I believed I could have used more BP. Next time I will be more precise and use 1 tsp per pound. After coating I placed them back in the refrigerator to further dry which was another 24 hours. Now did I need all this time in the refrigerator? I don't think so but because of schedule and timing I had no choice. 

Since they were now ice cold and already cooked all I needed to do was fry them up. They were all fried between 360 -380℉ for about 2 minutes and 20-40 secs. Yes I used a timer to gauge how long they would take to become golden brown. How long does it take to fry 14 lbs. Not long if you use a 20 qt stock pot filled 1/2 way up. I was able to fry everything in about 4 batches. I could have done it in 3 batches if I wanted too. 

Wing Sauce Ideas- Kodoshian Sauce, Doshers Gochugang Mayo Sauce and Honey Habanero Garlic Wing Sauce.

Review-They were awesome. What would I do different? Buy plumper wings. I should have made 20 lbs instead of 14 lbs. I should have been more precise with the BP. I will use 1 tsp per 1 pound next time. 

Future Wings- I will also try some corn starch added to the BP mixture. Since this is my food diary I'll come back to this post as a memory jogger. Hmm 1 tsp per 1/2 cup of corn starch mixed together and shaken all over the chicken. For 20 lbs this could be a lot. Hmmmm.  1 tsp and 1/2 cup o BP should work for about 4-5 lbs. And how about a Korean  Batter for Frying using Flour, water and Vodka. I've seen a variety of ratios…. 
 2 cups of Flour, 1 Tbl of Salt, 1 1/2 tsp of BP 1 cup of water and 1 cup of Vodka. You can used flavored Vodka too. Maybe with a citrus note. I'll wing this too…. 

Update- 6/18/2018- Yes it's only been four days since the last batch and it's fathers day and I wanted wings.

Ok so I purchased the wings at Safeway this time and not Costco. Way better wings and plumper.

I did not have time to Dry-Brine them which was very notable in the taste test. Yes, so they were not as good as the first batch above. So DRY-BRINING IS A NECESSITY FOR GOOD WINGS. 

Make sure to read the captions below the pictures to get an update on what I did. I made 9 lbs of wings. 

I Sous-Vide at 145℉ for 4 hours (love this). After the bath I shocked just for a bit and rinsed under cold water to get rid of the crap that comes off the chicken. So I really like this technique. Don't forget I did not dry-brine. And it was very notable on taste. After the rinse I dried very well with paper towels and sat them on a wired rack with a fan blowing to expedite drying. So in the future I  will dry-brine with salt only. Just a light sprinkle should be adequate. 
I used about 1 Tbl. of Baking Powder and 1 Cup of Cornstarch and tossed. Since I did not  dry-brine I added 1 Tbl of salt too. They were placed on wired rack and refrigerated till dry. 

They were all Deep-Fried at 360℉ and took a little longer to brown up. The ones that were made four days ago took 2 minutes to 30 secs to brown up. These took a minute longer. And even with the extra minute I was not impressed with the color.

Review-They were just OK. Nothing spectacular about these wings at all. I prefer only the baking powder technique. The next batch I make will be for further testing. I will make some with Baking-Powder and some without. I will also try the double fry method and combine that with SV? Maybe?