Buffalo Chicken – Buffalo, New York

We have added Buffalo, New York, to our list of cities for Great Lakes Cuisine and included two iconic locations: Anchor Bar and Charlie the Butcher. Anchor Bar is the original creator of Buffalo-style hot wings which is a fairly recent addition (last 50 years) to the regional culinary tradition. As a dish, it doesn’t have very deep roots – closer to in age to Chicago deep dish pizza than many of the culinary traditions we typically feature. The better example of the Great Lakes culinary tradition from Buffalo is Beef on Weck – a roast beef sandwich served on a Kummelweck roll, a hard roll with coarse sea salt and caraway seed on top.

Nevertheless, the Buffalo-style wing is an addictively tasty little morsel. The recent break-down by Epicurious.com of top sources of wings listed three different restaurants from our list – Greenhouse Tavern, Roast, and Anchor Bar. here is how Chef Sawyer from Greenhouse Tavern describes his take:

“First they’re cured for 36 hours in a mix of salt, pepper, sugar, and chili flakes. Then they’re gently cooked in a combination of beef, chicken, and duck fat for 12 hours in an immersion circulator. A slow cooling in the fat further melts the skin and tenderizes the flesh, ensuring moist wings. Then we let the chicken wings air-dry for 24 hours. This allows the skin to get crispy without the flesh getting soggy, leaving a delicious tender juicy wing.”

As always, Chef Sawyer takes it to another level. Incredible. In honor of the Buffalo-style hot wing, we offer our take on a Buffalo Chicken Burger, featuring both a blue cheese spread and a ghost chili pepper dusted cheese, topped with a celery relish – all the elements of the traditional hot wings, typically served with celery sticks and a blue cheese dipping sauce. We use a number of selections from Renard’s Cheese based in Door County, WI, including their remarkable Ghost Chili Jack cheese and we highly recommend ordering these cheeses online, but we have given alternatives below for convenience.

Buffalo-Style Chicken Burger

For the Chicken Burger
2 lbs ground dark meat chicken
1 medium onion diced
1 Tbs. butter
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 large egg
1 Tbs. dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil)

1 cup Blue Cheese Spread from Renard’s Cheese
-or-
1 cup blue cheese crumbles blended with
½ cup cream cheese and
½ cup shredded cheddar

For the Celery Relish
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced pickled sweet peppers
½ cup diced pickled onion

8 hamburger buns
Butter for toasted buns
Garlic salt to taste

1 lb Ghost Chili Jack from Renard’s Cheese, sliced
1 lb Sriracha Cheddar from Renard’s Cheese, sliced
-or-
1 lb of Pepper Jack cheese, sliced
Frank’s Red Hot sauce to taste

Romaine lettuce

In a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, melt butter, add onions, and sauté until translucent. Allow to cool and then add to ground chicken in a large bowl. Add corn flakes, herbs, and egg to the bowl and mix with hands until well mixed. Form into burgers return to refrigerator to set at least 30 minutes.

Prepare grill while burgers chill. Blend all ingredients for celery relish. Toast buns, spread with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Set aside.

Place burgers on grill, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes per side, then top with blue cheese spread and sliced cheeses. When cheese has melted, serve on buns, topped with celery relish and lettuce.

Buffalo Chicken Burger

 

We enjoyed our Buffalo-style Chicken Burger with an ice-cold Pilsner from Hinterland Brewing and sweet potato fries. The Pilsner was a perfect complement and very refreshing between bites of the burger. The Ghost Chili Jack cheese creates a slow burn, that builds and builds. You should get your hands on some, and enjoy the heat.

 

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Hoppel Poppel – Variations on a Theme

We have detailed our love for Hoppel Poppel, partly due to the association with the warming, filling versions served in Milwaukee at Benji’s or Jo’s Cafe, routinely named as two of the best places in the city for an old-fashioned diner-style breakfast. But the other reason to love Hoppel Poppel is the endless variations on the theme. This is basically cured or leftover meat, par-cooked potato and/or another starchy root vegetable, onions or related additions, topped with eggs in nearly any style, and cheese. Simply fry up the diced meat, starch, onion and spices, then top with eggs and cheese. The standard is scrambled eggs, added directly to the frying ingredients to create a sort of omelette/frittata, though a soft, sunny-side up egg is a wonderful alternative.

This becomes a lovely vehicle for leftover meats and we created breakfast today from our leftover shredded Porketta. In a well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium-high heat, 1 tablespoon of butter is melted, then diced porketta, diced par-cooked yellow potatoes, and diced red onions (to echo the ingredients used in the roast). Sprinkle with dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil) and a pinch of sea salt. In a separate pan over medium heat, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and crack one egg and cook to runny, sunny-side up, layering on cheddar cheese about half way through cooking. We had a supply of Renard’s Cracked Black Pepper Cheddar, which added just that extra pop – hearty, rich flavors of pork with the tang of cheddar.

Hoppel poppel porketta1

We enjoyed another variation a few nights ago for dinner, featuring salmon over a vegetable hash. Instead on pan frying the hash, in this dish we roasted diced sweet potato, diced zucchini, and diced yellow potato with a drizzle of olive oil and liberal amounts of dried thyme and sea salt in a 375 degree oven for approximately an hour. The sweet potato will become soft and begin to caramelize on the edges. While the hash cooks, heat a oven safe frying pan on the stove top over medium high heat with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. When oil is shimmering hot, lay a salmon fillet into the pan, skin side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After approximately five minutes, the fillet will have a slight browning on the edges of the skin, add two shallots diced to the pan and place the pan into the oven and allow the fish to finish cooking. While the fish finishes, cook a runny, over-easy egg. Serve with the hash on the bottom, topped with salmon fillet and then the egg. Drizzle shallot butter over the egg.

Hoppel poppel salmon

The sweetness of the potatoes and zucchini were a perfect canvas for the salmon while the egg and shallots created a wonderful “sauce” with some of the same elements of a scratch-made mayonnaise, particularly with a squeeze of lemon. Lovely. Endless possibilities.