The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

April 18, 2012

Worldwide wing fling: Chicken wings come in a variety of flavors

JOPLIN, Mo. — While most folks tend to think of the chicken wing as a uniquely American food creation, it actually carries an international pedigree.

The chicken wing is a highly versatile and adaptable food that can find a comfortable niche in a host of locations. From Memphis to Peking, from Mexico City to Rome, there is no end to the culinary influences that can turn the simple chicken wing into a savory delight.

Perhaps that explains why Caldone’s Restaurant, 218 S. Main St., has taken home the Annual King of Wings traveling trophy for the past two years.

The King of Wings contest pits some of Joplin’s finest restaurants against each other in an effort to see who can churn out the best chicken wing. The contest, which is a fundraiser to support the Emancipation Park Days Celebration, will be held at 3 p.m. April 28 at the Kitchen Pass Restaurant, 1212 S. Main.

Donnie Bennett and his wife, Karuleen, own and operate Caldone’s, which opened in November of 2009.

As the name implies, Caldone’s is primarily an Italian restaurant. But because Donnie spent some 10 years traveling the world as a captain in the United States Army, and because Karuleen is a native of Iraq, the restaurant’s menu also has a Mediterranean flavor mixed in with a dash of German and eastern European flavors.

At Caldone’s you may choose from traditional Italian fare such as pork Florentine, a lobster crab and shrimp ravioli, and a host of pasta dishes. You can also opt for a German-inspired Jagerschnitzel with breaded veal cutlets or maybe a rack of lamb.

“I’ve tried to do something different (with the menu) and put things that I enjoy on it,” Bennett said.

Recently, Caldone’s has begun serving a Saturday and Sunday brunch buffet with its normal international flair. The Sunday buffet is a full-fledged brunch with breakfast items, hand-rolled pizza and a carving station. The Saturday buffet is a breakfast brunch, and both run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Caldone’s prize-winning chicken wings tends to reflect the eclectic nature of its menu. In 2010, Caldone’s won the top prize with an in-house-produced balsamic vinegar-sauced wing that was battered and fried. Last year, the kitchen gurus at Caldone’s took home the trophy with a wing that combined the heat of a Nigerian red pepper with the sweetness of a melon chutney.

The red pepper is first pressed into the wing, which is dipped in egg, and dusted with flour and fried. Once the wing is removed from the hot oil, it is coated with the melon chutney made from fresh cantaloupe.

“It has that great combination of heat and sweet,” Bennett said.

The melon chutney chicken wing was a popular item on the menu at Caldone’s, but was recently taken off when the restaurant did one of its regularly scheduled menu revisions.

“We try to change our menu slightly about every three months. But the wing will probably be back on the menu again soon,” Bennett said.

Bennett isn’t sure what Caldone’s will come up to defend its King of Wings title, but he said the restaurant will definitely be vying to bring the trophy home again.

If you have a Joplin area restaurant and would like to enter the King of Wings contest, you may call 417-782-0055 or 417-483-1752.

If you would like to hold your own chicken wing contest, here are three recipes for you to sample:

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