We arrived in Vienna a week before Nico's 35th birthday. I decided to throw a small party for him as a way to celebrate him and welcome his friends and family that lived there to our new home. I asked him what he wanted me to serve and just asked that I not be required to make anything uniquely Austrian for a room full of Austrians. I was not surprised when he said he wanted standard American pub food. My husband is such a die hard fan of buffalo chicken wings that at one point in his life "salad" and "vegetables" for him meant eating the lettuce and carrots that garnished his wings. Wings are probably his favorite pub food of all time.
For a week I looked everywhere for just wings to buy and couldn't find any. I would have had to buy whole chickens and de-wing them myself and I just didn't need that many whole chickens in my life. Finally I decided to use chicken breast and cut it up into cubes to make boneless buffalo "wings". I also could not find Frank's Red Hot, so I ended up using a red chili pepper sauce I found at Julius Meinl. A few weeks later, I was delighted by a package from the States with three bottles of Franks from a good friend. She said she wanted me back in the U.S. before they were gone. She won.
Blue cheese dressing was another problem. I was actually pretty excited to make that, since I have never had a blue cheese dressing that I liked. I found a recipe on Spark People that I liked the sound of and made adjustments to suit our tastes. (I will admit, that my version may not be as Spark People friendly as it originated.) But it was very tasty and it's the only thing we use now when something calls for blue cheese dressing or dip.
On the menu were mini-bite sized tacos, nachos and quesadillas. I also made cupcakes and a cheesecake. The chicken was the biggest hit at the party. Nico loved it so much that later that week he asked me to make it again. This time I made it into a meal. I made some brown rice and subbed out the boring carrots and celery with some steamed broccoli.
Because the chicken is boneless and skinless, its has a healthy advantage over traditional wings. And ditching the fryer for a quick sauté on the stovetop makes them win in the fat department. While I don't use light or low fat ingredients in my cooking, you could substitute the mayo and sour cream in the dressing for its lighter counterparts. But overall, this is a dish that takes greasy pub food and brings it to the dinner table.
Lighter Buffalo Chicken
adapted from Franks Red Hot recipe
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 2 tablespoons flour
- salt and pepper
- half bottle of Franks Red Hot, about half a cup
- half tablespoon butter, melted
- 2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts
Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Lightly coat them in the flour and lay flat on a plate. Spray a large sauté pan with cooking spray. When the pan is hot, add the chicken and cook on medium until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Meanwhile, combine the hot sauce and butter. Remove the chicken from the heat and pour the sauce over it, stirring to combine. Sprinkle with chopped scallions
Blue Cheese dressing
adapted from sparkpeople.com
- half cup mayonnaise
- half cup sour cream
- tablespoon of vinegar
- teaspoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- as much blue cheese as you like (I happen to like a LOT!)
Combine first five ingredients in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Add the blue cheese. I like to make this ahead so the flavors have time to come together in the fridge, usually about an hour before. But I have made this up to a day in advance.