Even though I’ve given these things up for a while I still think about them a lot, I’m talking about Devil Wings, deep-fried, halved chicken wings tossed in a hot sauce made of Louisiana hot sauce and butter. My wife and I found these things in San Francisco last year under their original title, ‘Buffalo Wings’ while on holiday. One afternoon after we’d had an argument I left our hotel room and started walking up the street, on the next street corner was a diner I’d noticed a couple times before – painted white with blue and red detailing called ‘O.B.W.’ with a logo something like the Caltex logo but with a winged bison instead of the Pegasus. I went inside and saw their specialty was Buffalo Wings – that came in hot, extra hot, and terriayaki, I ordered a dozen extra hot and after a 10 minute wait got a big sack of these things, well it was almost love at first taste, I walked around for a while eating these things with hot sauce all over my hand and looking in shop windows when I saw my wife coming up the sidewalk with our two boys,
“what are you eating?”
“give me one”
Well we stood there on the sidewalk pigging out on these hot wings while people stared at us like a pair of freaks. We had them a couple more times before we left San Fran and then off we went to Europe.
Later that year, back in Australia I was shopping at a Spanish foods supermarket when I found a huge bottle of Mexican hot sauce (Tapatio) for real cheap, I bought it and planned to make the wings, I looked on the internet and found out that they were deep fried and that you mix hot sauce with butter to make the sauce, so on New Years Eve 2007 I made up a huge batch for the people round our place and we all sat out in the backyard drinking beer and eating ‘Buffalo Wings’ well, they were mighty hot, so hot that after about two of them your mouth was really burning up. I made the wings a few more times and everytime they were so hot they’d just about kill you, I went back on the internet to see what hot sauce was the best to use and everywhere said the original was Frank’s Red Hot sauce (you can’t get it in Australia), well we persevered with our insane xtra hot wings for a couple more months and then in April, we returned to the U.S.A. for a tour – I bought botttles of hot sauce everywere we went, in every grocery store, gas station, anywhere I could find it I bought some, although I didn’t get any Frank’s cos I didnt like the look of the bottle. We travelled from Austin, through Louisiana, up through Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky… right on up to New York where we stayed for 2 1/2 weeks then flew to San Francisco. The flight to San Francisco was a nightmare, we missed our plane in New York, while we were standing in line to get put on another flight a big bottle of hot sauce fell out of my bag and smashed on the floor sending glass and hot sauce everywhere, and our two boys screamed and cried for the entire flight. At last we got to San Francisco and took a cab to out hotel (the same one we stayed in the year before), when we got there my wife got the boys ready for bed and I went straight down to the corner and bought us a double dozen of hot wings, some drinks, fries and a salad, I got back to the hotel and the boys were asleep, we spread out a picnic on the floor and sat round eating these delicious wings, the whole day’s chaos was gone in an instant when we tasted how good they were, and mild compared to my ‘loco’ variation using the hot Mexican sauce. When we got back to Australia we went on a wings quest, using all the hot sauces I’d bought, looking for the best tasting one and the one that reminded us most of those wings we had in San Francisco.
After all the testing I have found a favourite – ‘Crystal’ hot sauce from Louisiana, it’s real mild so you can serve it to anyone but you can easily heat it up too by adding some super hot sauce in, and the flavour is good. So there you have it, I call them Devil Wings. Like I said at the start, I’m off them for a while, first because I suspect that they are one of the most unhealthy foods you can probably eat, and second, because they have a bad side-effect that can get you out of bed two or three times in the wee hours of the following morning to visit the bathroom (in the worst kind of way). By the way, I did try Frank’s Red Hot (found an American supermaket way out in the suburbs that sell it) and I didn’t like it – too salty, that’s the main problem with a lot of the sauces, if you’re gonna try making some of these try and get a sauce that is not real salty. When I make my cookbook these are gonna be in there.
Reprinted with permission