Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Hot Summer Night

Last night my local market had chicken wings on sale. Chicken wings are never on sale. I guess because chicken wings sell themselves and don’t really need to be marked down. But what did I know?

I knew this: These wings were on sale.

And that was all I needed to know.

I bought them.

That's where it all began.

Upon returning home, I dropped the raw wings into the deep fryer. While the wings spattered hot oil all over my kitchen, a classic wing sauce was concocted with Texas Pete hot sauce, butter and a few other flavorings. It was good. It tasted like wing sauce. It was not nearly as wonderful as say Ye Rustic's, but it could hold its on with about any ol’ average wing place like a Wingstop or whatnot.

But for some reason last night, I wanted some spice. A little something extra, I craved. Dare I use Emeril's moneymaker and say I indeed wanted to kick it up a notch. So I opened the spice closet only to learn that I was fresh out of cayenne. Fortunately, a full bottle of spicy chipotle powder, with a flirtatious gesture, raised its eyebrows at me. This would certainly bring the heat, I thought, as I removed the vixen from her perch.

Two tablespoons later, I was still unsatisfied with my sauce’s piquancy.

Now, let it be known that I was not attempting for some kind of manly, ego boosting heat here. I like things hot, but not scorching. I don't enter hot wing eating contests or order things extra hot when I go to Thai restaurants just to prove I can eat them. I don't aspire to get my picture on the wall-o-fame at wing joints across the land or to have a crowd gather round as I attempt to scarf down that wing at the bar & grill that has been soaking in jalapeno juice for 3 days, which at 1:45 am has suddenly become a great idea. That's not me.

But last night was different. Last night I wanted it hot. Very hot. Maybe it was the lackluster chicken-fried steak I ate for lunch or maybe it was the case of Miller High Life (longnecks) that sat in my fridge seemingly begging for a fire to extinguish, but whatever it was, I was ready for some burn. And since they were my wings, in my kitchen, I would get that burn.

But how?

With my cayenne supply depleted and fearing the smokiness of more chipotle would only clash with the flavor of the Texas Pete (not sold in TX by the way), I needed to add something else. Garlic wouldn't create the heat I wanted, Sriracha would give it plenty of heat, but would add unwanted flavors, while dried chilies would take too long to render their spiciness because I was looking to eat immediately.

I was going to be forced to settle for medium wings. There could be worse things to settle for, I suppose.

Suddenly, out of nowhere I was hit with a revelation. A revelation that could have only come from…see, I’d like to tell you, dear reader, that this revelation was sent from God, but I cannot. God would have nothing to do with these wings I would later learn. This revelation was hand delivered from Old Nick himself. Yes, it could’ve only been the devil that reminded me that I possessed a hot sauce on my shelf that I had only used once. It was called Magma.

I received a bottle of Magma while writing a story on another hot sauce, made by the same company, named Frostbite (the first ever white hot sauce that goes great in margaritas {if that's your thing}). I once threw a couple of tablespoons of Magma into a chili I was making…You know in movies when the witch has a pot with some bubbling liquid in it and someone dips in a spoon only to watch the spoon instantly dissolve with a poof of smoke? That pretty much sums up what I had done to my chili.

Having learned from my mistake, I added only a couple of dashes of Magma to my wing sauce. Bingo. It was nice and spicy without being too over the top. I knew my brow would bead with sweat, as would that space just below my bottom eyelids, but my tongue would be able to handle these wings until my plate was clean. After all, I had 18 of theses bad boys to scarf down (Shut up! I'm a growing young man.)

I tossed my wings in the sauce, took a few snazzy photos for the blog, sat down, picked up a wing and....

First, let me tell you a little something about Magma Hot Sauce. It's not really a typical hot sauce. Long story short, the folks at CaJohn's Foods found a way to extract the hottest part of the pepper and bottle it. They call this Extract de Lucifer, oleoresin of Capsicum. The sauce is called Magma, because the oleoresin separates from the vinegar and when you shake the bottle it resembles a lava lamp.

Did you get that? This shit is so hot that even vinegar, just like God, wants nothing to do with it.

Just to give you an idea of the heat we're talking about here, Tabasco is rated at 2,140 scoville units (unit of measurement for heat in chili peppers). Magma is rated at 500,000.

...I bit into the wing and tasted a complex smoky and vinegary taste that was out of this world delicious. The wing had all the heat I wanted and a little bit more, but nothing too off the charts. I had done good.

I had another. And then another. My forehead was damp and I was refraining from rubbing my eye sockets with my oleoresin covered fingers; exactly the mild pain I had hope for.

But then something else started going on. That smoky, sharp, spiciness that had been deposited on my tongue with the first wing was rapidly morphing into something much hotter. Though I've never seen one in person, I'm imagining what was going on in my mouth looked kind of like one of those obscenely large Texas high school pep rally bonfires.

My worst fears were soon confirmed when lava poured from my mouth. This was no small hiccup like the one the cute, fire-breathing baby dragon makes in cartoons. No, there was a river of fire pouring from my mouth. At one point, my mouth was simply not large enough to allow for all the molten liquid to escape so it began coming out of my ears.

Never being one to stop while I’m ahead, I ate a few more wings. I felt my breath could melt buildings. I looked at my face; I was redder than an Asian after a six-pack. Yet I would continue until all 18 of the wings had been consumed.

The High Life was no help. Lemonade was a waste of time. Even milk boiled on my tongue. I was in pain.

It was a long night, in fact, the next 90-minutes in many ways resembled the opening scene from Apocalypse Now where Martin Sheen breaks down in a Saigon hotel room. But when the smoke cleared there were 18 cleaned wing bones stacked in a pile. And if you looked close enough, you would almost say that pile of bones looked like a volcano.

I highly recommend Magma Hot Sauce, but consider yourself warned.

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