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Buffalo Chicken Strips with Blue Cheese Dip

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Serves four as a main dish or eight to twelve as an appetizer.

Yields 2 pounds.

Instead of the traditional and now rather expensive chicken wings, I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in my version of this popular snack. It’s best to use natural, high-quality chicken. The  dip can be made up to four days ahead, but definitely start this dish at least a day ahead of time to let the chicken marinate.

For the chicken:
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the dip:
  • 1/4 lb. Maytag Blue, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade or prepared)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup Crystal Hot Sauce (or another brand of cayenne hot sauce such as Frank’s or Durkee, but not a fiery sauce like Tabasco)
  • 4 Tbs. melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
For finishing the dish:
  • About 1 qt. vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 colored bell peppers (orange, red, or yellow), cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
  • 1 seedless cucumber, unpeeled, cut into spears
  • 1 celery heart, washed and drained, cut into sticks

Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the bourbon, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Trim and discard any visible fat on the chicken thighs. Cut each thigh lengthwise into 5 to 6 strips. Toss the strips in the bourbon mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Make the dip: Blend half the cheese with the mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth. Add the sour cream and cider vinegar and process until the mixture has the consistency of creamy mayonnaise. Add the scallions, parsley, and dill and process again briefly. Add the remaining cheese, process very briefly (the dip should be slightly chunky), and remove from the food processor. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Wrap well and refrigerate for up to four days.

Make the sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together the hot sauce, melted butter, salt, and cornstarch mixture. Heat while whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The sauce should be smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Finish the dish: Heat the oven to 250ºF. Pour enough oil into a wok or deep, heavy pot to reach about 2 inches. Heat the oil to 365ºF or until the oil shimmers and the air 2 inches above the oil feels hot.

Drain the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Spread the flour in a wide, shallow container and dredge one-third of the thigh strips, shaking off any excess flour. Carefully put the strips one at a time in the hot oil. Fry until the strips are golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat this process until all the chicken has been fried.

Put the fried chicken in a large bowl. Toss with the warm sauce and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Heat in the oven for about 5 minutes so the sauce is absorbed. Serve immediately with the dip, peppers, cucumber, and celery.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per appetizer portion; Calories (kcal): 420; Fat (g): fat g 32; Fat Calories (kcal): 290; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 8; Protein (g): protein g 19; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 12; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 830; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 90; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

When I read through this recipe I wasn't sure about it but it was a huge hit for Superbowl Sunday. A big a hit for both kids (without the hot sauce in the last step) and adults alike!

These are ridiculously good! I make them every year for our annual Christmas party of 50 people. They don't even make it out of the kitchen to the table.

I've made this several times and it's always a big hit. The recipe isn't fast but it's absolutely worth the time and effort.

I followed the chicken recipe exactly and it was great. I made the dip, but everyone liked the chicken as is and very little of the dip was eaten. I'll make it again this year with no dip. It was a favorite at last years super bowl party.

Yummy. I left out the bourbon to serve it to my kids & it was a big hit.

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