Photo by Holly A. Heyser
Yes, I watched the Super Bowl, as I have every year since the mid-1970s. Regardless of the teams playing, the game always delivers excitement. And for me, no Super Bowl is complete without some delicious fried food, like Buffalo wings.
Now, you may be thinking, “Buffalo wings? But ducks don’t have wings!” Well, you’re right. Buffalo wings are named after the city in New York, not the actual buffalo. They are essentially a way to enjoy the less desirable part of the chicken — the wings. You marinate the wings in a hot sauce, roast or fry them, toss them in more sauce, and serve them with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. It’s a classic!
But here’s the thing: not all wings are created equal. I’ve had my fair share of disappointing wings. Some have had flabby skin, while others were undercooked. The key is to prepare the wings perfectly, so they easily slip off the bone.
That brings me to duck wings. Very few hunters bother to save the wings of their ducks, especially the second digit, which is equivalent to a bird’s forearm. Plucking that part can be a bit of a hassle, but since I took down this bird, I might as well savor every bit of it.
Typically, I toss the second digit into the stockpot and use the drumettes for braised dishes. But one day, the idea of duck Buffalo wings crossed my mind, so I saved a big bag of wings after a successful hunt with my friend Holly.
(Try my Buffalo meatballs. Yes, meatballs served just like Buffalo wings!)
Preparing Buffalo wings with duck is slightly different from using chicken. Ducks fly thousands of miles, while chickens hardly fly at all. As a result, duck wings are more challenging to cook to the perfect tenderness. I’ve considered trying to sous vide them for six hours, but for now, my wings turn out delightfully chewy.
To soften them up a bit, I simmer the wings in duck stock for a few hours. Then, I marinate them and roast them in the oven to achieve crispy skin. There’s an ongoing debate about how Buffalo wings should be prepared — fried, broiled, grilled, smoked, or roasted. My answer is simple: “Yes.” I’ve had delicious wings cooked using all these methods, so it’s really a matter of personal preference.
So, how did they turn out? I loved them! They had a distinct duck flavor, a pleasant level of spiciness, and were incredibly enjoyable to gnaw on. Be warned, though: this is a messy dish that requires you to get your hands dirty to savor every bit of the tasty meat. As for the blue cheese dressing, I’m still experimenting with that one.
Now, you may be wondering why I went through all this trouble. Well, if you’re a hunter with a collection of duck wings, you’re in luck. If not, you can find duck wings at Asian markets for a ridiculously low price. A big bag usually costs around $5, which provides you with a generous amount of protein at an affordable price — something we can all appreciate in these times.
So, the next time you’re craving some mouthwatering Buffalo wings, consider giving duck wings a try. You won’t be disappointed!