A 2017 study found that the average American carnivore consumes about 18,000 wings over their lifetime, so at some point you’ll want to switch up your drumstick preparation. As the beginning of football season approaches, get your Wet-Naps ready because the minds behind three of Tampa’s most iconic chicken wings are sharing their secrets.
The Old-School Favorite
South Tampa’s Press Box was reportedly the neighborhood’s first buffalo wing joint when it opened in 1988, frying up fresh jumbo wings tossed to order ever since. Owner Walter Hill has employed a few tricks (like cooking the wings at exactly the right temperature — 370 degrees — and leaving the wing tip on the flapper to make eating easier) to keep customers coming back. “Quality food at a reasonable price with outstanding service in a fun atmosphere is key,” he says. Outside of traditional buffalo sauce, Hill says the honey barbecue sauce is a top seller, along with cajun-rubbed wings. He advises home chefs grill or bake their wings, either coating the wings with a spicy rub before they hit the oven or saucing grilled wings after they come off the heat to prevent the liquid from burning.
Owners of downtown’s Hattricks Tavern were looking for a new way to eat wings when they hit upon their now-iconic “shake and bake” preparation. By tossing the wings in their house-made sauces (the shake) then cooking them in the oven (the bake), the chicken came out crispy without being dry or fried in oil. The baked-in sauce also means the wings create a bit less mess than traditional drumsticks. Though Hattricks also serves traditionally sauced wings, general manager David Mangione says the vast majority of customers choose shake and bake, with the extra-spicy Lightning sauce being a particular favorite (he likes the Lightning shake-and-bakes retossed in garlic parmesan sauce). As for the reason behind their wings’ overwhelming success? “The secret is in the sauce,” Mangione says.
The International Bird
The newest occupants of Armature Works’ rotating stall, chismis & co., married the the all-American buffalo wing with traditional Filipino ingredients to create this one-of-a- kind dish. Led by chef-owner Ron Vicencio and Ichicoro’s self-dubbed “chief noodle officer” Noel Cruz, the culinary team tosses their wings in a calamansi caramel sauce: a tangy, sweet and salty glaze that combines calamansi — a hybrid kumquat and citrus fruit native to the Philippines — with palm sugar and a bit of a fish sauce called patis. Cruz says the wings are an approachable way for diners to get acclimated with Filipino food and have so far been a success. “We did not expect them to be such a runaway hit,” he says. “In theory, they have similar flavor notes that buffalo-style wings do, with that salty, tangy punch.”
Chicken Wing Rubs:
LEMON PEPPER- Crushed black pepper, finely grated lemon zest, kosher salt
JAMAICAN JERK- Dried thyme, curry powder, allspice, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, sugar, salt, black pepper
CAJUN- Crushed red pepper, salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, dried oregano, dried thyme
Make Your Own – How To Books:
CHICKEN WINGS By Carol Hilker
This food writer is breaking up the monotony of wing night with out-of-the-box recipes like buttermilk crumbed wings, General Tso’s wings and baked bourbon wings.
THE HOT SAUCE COOKBOOK By Robb Walsh
Get recipes for sauces inspired by Frank’s Red Hot, Texas Pete and ancient salsas — as well as recipes for spicy dishes.
Where To Find The Wings In This Story:
222 S. Dale Mabry Hwy. | (813) 876-3528 | 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
107 S. Franklin St. | (813) 225-4288 | 11:15 a.m. to 3 a.m.
chismis & co.
Armature Works, 1910 N. Ola Ave. | 813-250-3725 | see website for hours