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posted: 9/6/2013 5:04 AM

Move over Mom: Snack chips get repurposed into tasty game-time treat

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  • Think of Buffalo Chicken Bites as training wheels, an introduction to the bold flavor of Buffalo chicken wings without excessive heat.

       Think of Buffalo Chicken Bites as training wheels, an introduction to the bold flavor of Buffalo chicken wings without excessive heat.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
By Jerome Gabriel

HotHotHotHotHot! It burns!

That was my reaction the first time I tried Buffalo chicken wings in a restaurant. I like chicken, but this was too hot for me to handle.

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Buffalo wings are not the wings of buffalo, but chicken wings that are cooked in sauce made of cayenne pepper, hot sauce and melted butter or margarine. They started in Buffalo, N.Y., honestly, and a common place given as the birthplace of the recipe is the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, hence the name Buffalo wings.

Back around 1982, the popularity of Buffalo chicken wings took flight after they were featured on "The Today Show." Today you can find Buffalo-style wings at all sorts of restaurants and sports bars. They became a popular snack food and many people associate them with football and sports in general, though I haven't heard of people eating them at golf tournaments.

I like the idea of Buffalo wings but wanted something that didn't burn my mouth with the heat of a thousand suns, so to speak. I also don't really like bones in my chicken, so I came up with Buffalo Chicken Bites. Thanks to boneless, skinless chicken breasts and Buffalo wing-flavored crackers, I can enjoy a game-day snack without the excessive heat.

A word from Mom: Chicken nuggets are a popular dinner in my house and I've tried to all manner of alternative "breading." A combo of crushed multigrain chips and cheese-flavored crackers proved especially tasty.

When I brought home a box of Buffalo wing-flavored wheat crackers I could see the wheels turning in Jerome's head. On a recent trip to the grocery store we also discovered Buffalo flavored potato chips and pretzel thins, so we had plenty of breading options with which to experiment.

We decided to bake these, so they're also healthier than wings cooked in buttery sauce. If you can handle the heat, add cayenne pepper to the crackers or a few shakes of hot pepper sauce to the milk.

• Jerome Gabriel, an eighth-grader, has been helping in the kitchen since he could hold a spoon. His mom, Deborah Pankey, is food editor for the Daily Herald. Write to him at food@dailyherald.com.

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