A Wing and A Prayer
January 30th, 2012 - By Lari Robling
Sunday is the Super Bowl and other than Thanksgiving, probably the day we consume the most calories. Judging what's making the rounds on the internet, junk food stadiums have become the new gingerbread house — an homage to just how much we can eat in the interest of sport.
Heading the menu is an estimated 100 million pounds of chicken wings. I can't even fathom how many chickens that is!
There are eighty-one calories in a small wing and over five grams of fat. That's BEFORE you add dips and sauces which also pack in sodium. Considering the average person will pile at least five or six wings on his plate, well, you can see the nutritional hole you are digging and it isn't even half time.
I started thinking about developing a substitute that didn't leave you craving the real thing. I've made strides, but I'm not there yet. Still, I think I have some aspects that are a keeper.
First, I cut boneless skinless chicken breast into one-inch chunks and marinated it in yogurt and hot sauce for a couple of hours. That worked well because it tenderized the meat and gave it some kick.
I made a blend of buckwheat flour and coarsely chopped pecans for a breading. Unfortunately the buckwheat flour just made the chicken look gray so that needs to be tweaked. I like the low gylcemic index of buckwheat flour and the fact that it is a whole grain so I will continue working with that — but I suspect I have to mix something such as panko crumbs or crushed cornflakes along with it to get any crunch.
One concept that worked well was skewering the chunks. First, it made dipping the chicken into the flour mixture easier and cleaner. Second, when you serve it, the skewer replicates the bone in the wing, giving you a handle and making dipping easier.
For serving, I made a quick dip with an ounce of blu cheese mixed into a cup of low fat yogurt. A dusting of smoked paprika on top was perfect. And, don't feel you have to stick to celery sticks and carrots. I added some wedges of fennel. Root vegetables such as turnip chips are another way to add interest. If you are filling your plate up vegetables to try, it leaves less room for the dangerous stuff.
So hopefully I'll have the coating worked out before game day. If you have any ideas for a healthy coating that will bake into crunchy texture with good eye appeal, let me know. And go Eagles! (Gasp, what, they aren't playing??!!)