What an eventful time in Top Chef Canada land this past week. Cooking with vending machine ingredients, ‘roughing it’ in the wilderness and an appearance by Roger Mooking. This was definitely one of my favourite episodes to date. Although, I must say, it broke my heart a bit to see Ryan sent home. He will be missed. After watching all the chefs sweat making, uh, ‘unique’ dishes out of vending machine fare, I thought to myself, ‘Thank god I won’t have to do that this week!’ I spoke too soon... Little did I know, Trevor’s Pork Rind Crusted Chicken Wings with Pretzel Beer Mayo would sweep the polls on foodnetwork.ca. As much I had hoped to garnish a plate with squab feet, that dream would have to wait for another day.
Trevor’s idea of coating chicken wings with pork rinds was quite genius, actually, although I was a bit skeptical about the pretzel ‘mayo.’ Seeing as I utilize Twitter for just about every aspect of my life (including my never-ending search for true love), I decided to reach out to Trevor for some advice. Luckily, he came through and told me to add more beer.
Now that’s the kind of advice I can take and run with! All of the mayonnaise ingredients combined in my blender kind of resembled a hot mess (of Lindsay Lohan proportions), but after pureeing them and adding the olive oil, it actually came out quite nicely. It had a surprisingly great texture and was just tangy enough. I’m going to have to rock the pretzel beer mayonnaise at my next dinner party!
Now, for the chicken wing coating, I did mention using a food processor in the recipe below, but I love my mortar and pestle for combining dry ingredients. First off, I generally make my own bread crumbs by toasting some baguette slices in the oven until nice and crispy and then pounding them into, well, crumbs with the mortar and pestle. The pork rinds also met the same fate in the process of making this dish. What can I say? I like smashing stuff! Seriously, if you ever have to let off some excess steam, a mortar and pestle is the way to go!
Moving swiftly along, I coated all of the wings with the pork rind mixture and baked them in the oven until they were nice and crispy. I fried the chicken in some oil to get that authentic ‘time to watch a sports game’ kind of texture, but I’m not a sports guy and it was 24 degrees outside this weekend. So, I was not in the mood to heat up my kitchen and smell like frying oil for the rest of the day.
Seeing as it was a ridiculously beautiful day outside, I decided to bring my chicken wings and beer mayonnaise to an impromptu picnic in the park with some friends. The ‘judges’ for my Top Chef Canada recreated dish were relatively lazy, laying on the ground watching the clouds float by, so I don’t think they were as critical as they should have been post-tasting. Nonetheless, the chicken wings were well received!
With only a few weeks of Taking The Challenge Home left, I can’t help but get a little sentimental. I mean, what am I going to do with the rest of my summer?
Pork Rind Crusted Chicken Wings w/Pretzel Beer Mayo
Yield: 4 servings
Total cook time: 45 minutes
For the Chicken Wings:
2 cups pork rinds
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
black ground pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
12 chicken wings (halved)
For the Pretzel Beer Mayo:
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup pretzels
1/3 cup beer
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine the first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fine. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Crack the eggs into a second bowl and whisk to make an egg wash. Place flour into a third bowl. Take each piece of meat placing it first into the flour, then egg wash and coat completely in the pork rind mixture. Set onto prepared baking sheets (approximately 12 pieces per sheet) and bake in the oven until chicken is completely cooked through and the coating is nice and crispy, about 35-40 minutes. Keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
Pretzel Beer Mayo:
Place the first six ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Turn to low speed and slowly pour in the 1/2 cup of olive oil until mixture emulsifies and thickens. Season with salt and pepper and let chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serve wings hot out of the oven on a large serving platter with chilled pretzel mayo in a small bowl on the side. Have some carrot sticks on the platter too. It’s a required wings accessory!
Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.
by Nadine Anglin