Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing!
Such was the case at Sunday’s third annual Best Wings in Brooklyn Competition, held at Red Star bar in Greenpoint, where this writer had the considerable pleasure — along with reps from Yelp, the Daily News, Brooklyn Exposed and Food Curated — of judging the chicken-fried goods of some of the most banging wing slingers in the borough.
We were joined by more than 2,000 poultry aficionados — who dutifully waded through an impressive roster of wings that ranged from sweet and saucy (Red Star’s Raspberry BBQ), to smoky (Lonestar’s Chipotle), to simple and spicy (Life Café’s Buffalo), to SoCo sloshed (the Bayou at Bay Ridge’s Bean Post Pub.)
And although the palates of the crowd proved to be as wide-ranging as the various flavor profiles, all were uniquely united in the end by an unapologetically primal love of wings.
“I think this brings us to our very early human nature — literally ripping flesh from bone,” explained Adam Troeder, who travelled from the Upper West Side and waited on a two-hour line for the event. “In a way, I think it’s a sophisticated development in our evolutionary process; showing we don’t need the aid of tools and utensils to help us with our basic needs.”
Newcomer Canarsie contender Brooklyn Wings definitely nailed all of our primary pleasure points — emerging as a sleeper hit to take third place with an organic, Asian-fusion wing.
Second place was a bone of contention for the judges, pitting Mulholland’s of Williamsburg’s audaciously naked dry-rubbed wing against Bonnie’s of Park Slope’s traditional, hot-sauce sluiced take.
This judge was duly won over by an acidic squirt of fresh lime that topped Mulholland’s entry, but — not willing to stage a reenactment of 12 Angry Men — eventually let it go. No such battles were waged over the evening’s ultimate winner, however, with 2010’s inaugural champion — Crown Heights’ Super Wings NY — once again flying away with the prize.
“I think people love us because we go real strong with the flavor, marinating the chicken for 24 hours before we even fry it,” said owner Colette Burnett of her zesty, meaty, impossibly crisp-tender Caribbean-accented wing with lava sauce.
“I am beyond excited; this is the biggest win for us,” she added. “Our business was only five months old when we competed for the first time, so to win again in 2012 is amazing. Brooklyn is the best place in the world, so to be best in Brooklyn — my goodness!”
Want to know what an award winning wing tastes like? Get ready for next year’s The Best Wings in Brooklyn competition by studying up on Burnett’s game-changing recipe below.
Trini tamarind wings
Courtesy of Colette Burnett, Super Wings NY
Makes 35–40 wings
1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tblsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup vinegar
4 pounds chicken wings
Trini tamarind sauce:
2 cups tamarind pulp (soak 1 lb. peeled tamarind fruit in 1 1/2cups warm water, then sieve to extract seeds and seed coverings).
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tblsp. salt
2 tblsp. pureed garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tsp. ground cumin
Habanero pepper, or red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tblsp. sugar
2 tblsp. paprika
2 tblsp. Secret Special 4 pepper blend, or your favorite combination
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
For the marinade: Puree all the ingredients, except the chicken wings, together in a food processor, and then add to the chicken wings. Marinate the wings for 24 hours.
For the tamarind sauce: Mix all the ingredients into a medium-thick sauce. Refrigerate for one day to allow all the flavors to meld.
For the lava sauce: In a small pot, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic until golden; remove and cool. Add all the other ingredients, combine completely, and refrigerate.
Preheat the oil to 350 degrees F.
Add the chicken wings to the oil and deep fry until they are crispy and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain.
Transfer the wings to a hot wok and douse with Trini Tamarind Sauce. Saute the wings for one minute in the sauce, remove, and drizzle with Lava Sauce for an extra punch of spicy goodness.
Super Wings NY [1218 Union St. between Rogers and Nostrand avenues in Crown Heights, (718) 467-8737].