Mazzatta’s, the mom and pop Italian restaurant where I had my first job, has been featured several times in this space. But I also worked at Jagger’s Restaurant and Pub (as it was known 20 years ago), on the edge of Emory University’s campus in Atlanta, GA. There I was a short order cook, frying corn tortillas for freshly made chips for nachos, grilling chicken breasts and burgers, and frying up lots and lots and lots of chicken wings.
Buffalo had nothing on us!
The place was open until 2 am Monday through Saturday and when the clock struck 10 pm, Jagger’s famous hot and spicy wings magically became $.10 each (and Milwaukee’s Best pitchers of beer were $1.99). It was mayhem. Drunken boys poured out of fraternity houses and flocked to Jaggers to consume hundreds (really, multiple orders of 50 wings each did I prepare) of spicy wings. And woe to the crazy (really drunk) person who sent the wings back to the kitchen claiming they were “Not Hot Enough”! That was when I would mix up my special fire-breathing concoctions to quiet the rabble. Occasionally, I would even cruise the dining room to ensure that tears were indeed streaming down the face of the one would wanted it hotter…They always left satisfied!
This wing recipe was originally inspired by all of the Superbowl posts and fond memories of Jaggers. Without the deep fryer that made fried food at Jagger’s so easy to make, I knew I would need to improvise. These are double baked, with the second baking happening at very high heat for a few minutes to crisp the skin of the drumlets and wings. Do not skip that step, it makes it all worth while!
Hot Wings with Creamy Dressing (it tastes like Ranch, but without buttermilk, I didn’t feel I could call it that)
1 cup greek yogurt
4 tablespoons aioli (or 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 clove garlic, minced, pinch of salt and increase cider vinegar to 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons fresh dill, minced
3-4 chives, minced or green parts of 3 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Combine all and blend well, adjust for salt.
2 lbs chicken drumsticks/wings
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
hot pepper sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat chicken dry and salt and toss with paprika. Toss chicken with olive oil, literally tossing it in a bowl and swirling it around to get it well coated. Bake chicken for 15 minutes and then turn pieces to cook on other side for another 15 minutes. Turn oven up to 500 degrees and remove chicken from oven and shake hot sauce on wings (about 2-3 tablespoons) and toss and swirl in bowl to coat wings. Add another dash of salt and return to oven and bake another 5-7 minutes until skin crisps. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing and cut celery.
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