On a Wing and a Prayer

Sticky Wings with Peanuts and Cilantro
It's no secret that when the Saints play, I get nervous. Really nervous. Maybe even a bit superstitious, too. Of course, I'm always undecided about whether or not I should wear my Saints gear, especially since one year, after a particularly embarrassing defeat, I was stuck in full dress next to a group of screaming, disgusting Cowboy fans who were celebrating their team's win with just a bit too much smugness.

In past seasons, I've flat out refused to watch games and instead busied myself in the kitchen or opted for a little afternoon--or evening--gardening. While I love watching football and can enjoy most games, with the Saints it's a whole different matter. Somehow, watching them play turns me into someone else, someone who screams and curses and even throws more than an insult or two.

I'll let you in on another secret--Mr. B has no problem pointing out that my support, or lack thereof, makes my fan status a bit questionable. Granted, I can see his point, but I never let him down when it comes to providing a fabulous game day menu.

This time, since the game was in Seattle, we decided to try our luck with chicken wings, a dish that seems a lot easier to execute than it actually is--sort of like the game the Saints were facing. Chicken wings, while tasty and darn addictive when done right, have a whole lot of fat and very little meat. Fat is a good thing for moist meat, but too much fat, too much unrendered fat, well, that's not such a good thing.

We started out with the intention of recreating wings that Mr. B once ate in Portland and that have now become pretty famous--Pok Pok wings--fried crispy and and served with a sticky concoction of fish sauce and garlic--except, we weren't planning on frying our wings, and as usual, we planned on adding a few more ingredients to the mix.

After a full week of hashing out our strategy, we finally came up with a method that we felt pretty confident about, and unlike past years, I took my seat on the sofa right at Mr. B's side and settled in to watch the big game. Over the next few hours, we cheered and winced, jumped and cursed, all the while taking in the crazy good aroma of those cooking wings. And then, just as the clock was ticking down and the Saints fell behind for what appeared the last time, Mr. B stood up and left the room.

Gone. Outta there--his spot on the sofa still warm to the touch.

I heard him in the kitchen, opening the cabinet, ice tumbling into a glass and I knew, he was fixing a much need and deserved drink. It had been a long season. And then, I called out to him to hurry back--the Saints had the ball and it was looking like they might be able to pull it off. Nope, he yelled--it was over. It was done. Finished. He wasn't coming back.

"You can't do it," I yelled back. "You're not a fair-weather fan like me; you're much better than that!" And it was true; he climbed the ladder and hung the Saints flag; he always wore his gear; he never left the room until the game was really, truly, unquestioningly over.

The clock ticked; a few more seconds gone and then, just as I knew he would, he reluctantly came back into the room and took his seat. Unbelievably, it looked like the Saints just might pull it off, miraculously so, all on a wing and a prayer, but then, there was that final mistake and all too quickly, it really was over.

Perhaps there would have been tears, or long periods of silence and remorse, but in the end, there was much to celebrate--we'd cracked the secret to incredible wings. At least one of our prayers had been answered!

Perfect Sticky Wings
3 lbs. of chicken wings, tips removed, separated at the joint
1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/3 cup of fish sauce
2 handfuls of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of garlic salt

1. Place wings in the crockpot and pour in the soy sauce and fish sauce. Sprinkle with brown sugar and garlic power.
2. Cook on medium heat for 3 1/2 hours; remove from crockpot and place in a single layer on a wire rack set over a sheet pan; refrigerate for 3 hours.
3. Transfer cooking liquid to a saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced by 2/3. Add 1/4 cup of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 2 pressed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup of fish sauce and 4 tablespoons of sriracha sauce.
4. Cook until thick and syrupy.
5. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and generously spray with Pam.
5. Using tongs, dip each chicken wing into the sauce to coat and set on the prepared pan, careful to leave room between each wing.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes then remove pan from the oven and redip each wing in the remaining glaze.
7. Place glazed wings under the broiler until bubbly and just beginning to darken; remove from oven and arrange wings on a serving platter.
8. Top with chopped dry roasted peanuts, cilantro, and sliced green onion tops.

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