Jen Hatmaker Feeds People
Look, I can be fancy if I need to be. I can arrange gorgeous beef tenderloin slices on a vintage platter and drizzle it with horseradish cream sauce. I can freeze raspberries in ice cubes and drop them into your fizzy cocktail with low lighting and Marc Broussard on the record player. I can host a candlelit dinner party wearing shoes in my own dang house like Audrey Hepburn.
But my favorite way to feed people is noisy, rowdy, self-serve family style with a bunch of babies running around and a game on the porch TV. I like my people dipping their spoons into the soup pot for a quick taste and rummaging around my fridge for more barbeque sauce. I want them scavenging my veggie drawer to add something they forgot to the salad they brought. I love a sturdy paper plate like a Southern baby loves grits, because my crew is enormous and I don’t want to do dishes for an hour after dinner.
And my favorite measure of happiness is how sloppy and saucy and drippy and messy my eaters are mixed with all their “Mmmms” and “Yummms.” Is your juicy smashburger dripping down your arms? Perfect. Are you slurping up Bolognese and making a mess of your face? Excellent. Are you hunched over your plate trying to fit that pulled pork slider into your mouth? My work here is done.
Maybe no other recipe hits my favorite marks more than hot, crispy chicken wings with homemade blue cheese sauce. Nobody doesn’t love them. No. Body. They are a delectable saucy mess. In my family, we make ‘em spiiiiiiicy—and we’re not sorry. My sister Lindsay perfected this recipe as head chef at a neighborhood favorite restaurant in Brooklyn, and we’ve made them a million times since. My deepest wish is that upon finishing your wings, you’ll need an ice pack for your lips and a shower.
You can fry, bake, or grill these, but be sure to make a mountain of them, because you can’t eat less than six. I don’t make the rules. I’m going to beg you not to skip the blue cheese sauce because Wings + BC = TruLuv4Eva. However you do it, when you gather your favorite people and feed them outrageously good food, you are winning at life. Obviously: shoes are optional for this enterprise.
Happy eating, darlings.
3 pounds chicken wings (I’m assuming you want a bunch)
3 tablespoons neutral oil
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or kick it up if you like to party)
1 (17-ounce) bottle sriracha
½ cup maple syrup
1 stick butter, melted but slightly cooled (that is Lindsay's weird instruction)
BLUE CHEESE DRESSING
12 ounces blue cheese crumbles
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
2 cups buttermilk (you might use less than the full amount)
1 teaspoon salt
This feeds a crowd, because who makes wings for three people?
Crank your oven to 425°F and let it preheat.
Rinse your wings and pat them totally dry, then coat them with the oil. Put the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a large bag (I use an old-timey brown paper bag like I'm at the five-and-dime in 1957, but you can do this in a big bowl) and shake it up. Toss in your oiled wings. Shake shake shake. We just want these lightly coated.
Grab a couple of baking sheets and a wire rack for each. Line the pans with foil and set a rack on top of the foil. (Your cleanup now equals trash-and-toss.) Pick up each wing with tongs, shake off any excess flour, and set on the racks in a single layer, not touching. Slide them into that hot oven and bake until the 20-minute mark, then flip and bake until they're crispy, brown, and sizzling, anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes more.
While the wings are browning up, get your blender out for the two sauces.
- For the wing sauce, combine the sriracha and maple syrup and blend. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Take a quick taste. Want it sweeter? Add more syrup. (Not a sriracha fan? Use your favorite store-bought wing sauce. But you don't get to leave out the butter. Sorry. You remember that I don't make the rules.) Pour this into a large bowl and rinse the blender jar.
- For the blue cheese dressing, combine all the blue cheese ingredients. Don't add the full pint of buttermilk right out of the gate—maybe start with half. Blend it up and see if you like the consistency of the dressing, then add more buttermilk to thin it if you prefer. Pour the dressing into a serving bowl.
When your wings are done, put them in the bowl with the wing sauce and toss and toss to coat. Serve these with the bowl of blue cheese alongside for dipping. LORD, I would drink five picklebacks (again) and ride shotgun with Marty just to have these in front of me.
You can find Jen’s cookbook, “Feed These People,” wherever books are sold.
Follow her on Instagram: @jenhatmaker