Menu Development
Cash in on appetizer sales by offering flavored chicken wings
By Pasquale "Pat" Bruno

It was at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, circa 1964, that owner Teresa Bellissimo created the now famous Buffalo chicken wings. As the story goes, she received a large order of chicken wings from a supplier and had to come up with a way to serve them in the bar. The wings were an instant hit with the patrons. The rest, as they say, is history.

As popular as those wings were in Buffalo, it took a while for them to gain status elsewhere. However, little by little, a wing here, a wing there, and suddenly there were wings everywhere, and it did not take a prayer to make it happen. Having been born in a bar, Buffalo wings were the quintessential bar food, but it didn't take too long for those wings to spread and fly across the country.

It would seem that now it is time for wings to fly even higher. I am suggesting a boxed-in section of wing flavors on your menu. Give your customers several options as it pertains to the style and flavor of these wonderfully tasty wings.

To get there, we need to first go over the basic steps of preparing the wings, the different methods of cooking and various dressing accompaniments.

• Halve the wings at the joint, then cut off the tip of each wing

• Figure about 4 wings per order for an appetizer serving

• Wings can be deep-fried, grilled or baked (the original recipe calls for deep-frying)

• Sauce and accompaniments are important, so pick from the various choices listed below

• For deep-frying you will need the oil at a temperature of 375 F. Cooking time is about 7 minutes

• Always pat the wings dry before immersing them in the oil (the wings cook better and spatter less)

• For baking wings, oven temperature should be 425 F. Bake time is about 30 minutes

• For grilling the wings, first toss the wings in vegetable oil. Grill for about 8 minutes on each side

• The heat (as in spicy) of the wings can be varied by the amount of hot sauce used

A typical wing menu should include the original Buffalo wing preparation, followed by, say, Italian wings and wings with a Mexican flair. Here is a road map for you to follow. Take a detour or two if you choose, but always come back to the main road.

Buffalo Chicken Wings


1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 pound crumbled blue cheese

Whisk ingredients to combine or use a food processor. Dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated.


4 pounds of chicken wings (about 16 wings)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

4 tablespoons hot sauce

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Deep fry the wings (in batches, if necessary) until crisp, golden and cooked through (about 7 to 8 minutes). Remove the wings from the fryer. Set aside.

To order, melt the butter in a sauté pan set over low heat. Stir in the hot sauce and the vinegar. Add the wings and toss to coat.

Serve with the dressing and celery sticks. Serves 4

Italian Wings

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), melted

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon dried oregano

24 chicken wings, tips cut off, halved at the joint

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, mustard, and cayenne. In another mixing bowl combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and oregano.

Dip the wings in the butter mixture, then in the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the wings on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for about 30 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve with a warm marinara sauce on the side for dipping. Serves 6.

Deviled Chicken Wings

16 chicken wings, tips cut off, halved at the joint

1 1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

In a mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs and the Parmesan.

In another large mixing bowl, combine the mustard, vegetable oil, vinegar, salt and cayenne.

Toss the chicken wings in the mustard and oil mixture. Next, press the wings into and coat with the bread crumb mixture.

Arrange the wings on a baking pan. Roast in a preheated 450 F oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing. Serves 4.

Mexican Wings

To give chicken wings a Mexican flair, simply brush the wings with a mole sauce (available from your supplier) before baking. Arrange the chicken wings on a platter with celery sticks and a ramekin of hot salsa.

Jerk Chicken Wings

This recipe calls for a marinade and some advance planning, but the results are delicious.

24 chicken wings, wing tips cut off, halved at the joint

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 drops Tabasco

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except the chicken. Pulse to puree and liquefy.

Arrange the chicken wings in a singe layer in a baking pan. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Let marinate, covered and chilled, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place the wings in one layer in a roasting pan. Spoon some of the marinade over the wings. Bake in a preheated 450 F oven for about 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with celery sticks and trimmed whole scallions. Serves 6.


Never look down on the idea of stick food as an appetizer option. Children and adults alike love stick food –– it’s fun, easy to eat, something a bit different. Stick food is here to stay.
I have written about fried mozzarella sticks for Pizza Today on several occasions and, no question about it, mozzarella sticks are a tasty, fun food; however, if the customer is ordering pizza (with all that cheese), maybe it’s a good idea to look beyond the cheese idea for a moment and think vegetables. And the vegetable that comes to mind for a delicious appetizer/stick food is zucchini.

Zucchini is available year-round, so getting it is not a problem. Food costs for zucchini are lower than that of mozzarella sticks, and the prep for zucchini sticks is a snap.

When purchasing zucchini, look for those with a bright colored skin and few blemishes or bruises. Generally speaking, smaller zucchini are much more tender than larger zucchini. Fresh zucchini will hold in the cooler for about one week.

You will note that I am not saying “fried zucchini sticks.” Yes, there is a recipe below that calls for frying, but there is also one where the zucchini sticks are baked (think healthy).

One of the important extras for zucchini sticks is the dipping sauce, so I am suggesting a spicy lemon aioli dipping sauce for the fried zucchini, and a warm marinara (or a warm pizza sauce) for the baked version.

Parmesan Zucchini Sticks
Yield: 4 appetizer servings (scale up in direct proportion)

1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium zucchini (about 1 ½ pounds), cut into strips about ½ inch wide and 3 inches long
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Finely chopped parsley

In a large plastic bag, combine well the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, flour and salt.
Dip the zucchini sticks in the eggs then (in batches) shake them in the bag with breadcrumb/flour mixture.
Fry the zucchini in 360 F oil until golden (about 3 minutes). Drain on rack and paper toweling. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve.

Spicy lemon/aioli dipping sauce
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup lemon juice

Combine and whisk all ingredients well. Store to chill in glass jar. Serve chilled with zucchini sticks.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks
Yield: 6 servings (scale up in direct proportion)

1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 medium zucchini (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into strips about ½ inch wide and 3 inches long
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese.
Dip zucchini strips in beaten egg then in breadcrumb mixture to coat.
Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Arrange the zucchini strips in one layer on sheet pans.
Bake in a 425 F oven for 20-25 minutes (shake the pans after about 15 minutes), or until golden brown.
Serve with warm marinara dipping sauce.

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