By Mike Pound
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:
Restaurant-style buffalo chicken wings
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 chicken wings
Oil for deep frying
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 dash ground black pepper
1 dash garlic powder
In a small bowl mix together the flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt. Place chicken wings in a large nonporous glass dish or bowl and sprinkle flour mixture over them until they are evenly coated. Cover dish or bowl and refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. The oil should be just enough to cover wings entirely, an inch or so deep. Combine the butter, hot sauce, pepper and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir together and heat until butter is melted and mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and reserve for serving.
Fry coated wings in hot oil for 10 to 15 minutes, or until parts of wings begin to turn brown. Remove from heat, place wings in serving bowl, add hot sauce mixture and stir together. Source: allrecipes.com
Japanese chicken wings
3 pounds chicken wings
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour for coating
1 cup butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut wings in half, dip in egg and coat with flour. Heat butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry wings until deep brown. Place in a shallow roasting pan.
In a small bowl combine soy sauce, water, sugar, vinegar, garlic powder and salt. Pour over wings. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, basting wings with sauce often. Source: allrecipes.com
Grilled chicken wings with sweet red chili peach glaze
1 (12-ounce) jar peach apricot preserves
1 cup Thai sweet red chili sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
No-stick cooking spray
1 (2 1/2 pound) bag chicken wing sections
Combine peach and apricot preserves, sweet red chili sauce, lime juice and cilantro in a medium bowl. Place half sweet red chili and peach glaze in a serving bowl.
Spray grill grates with no-stick cooking spray. Heat grill with medium heat. Grill wings about 20 to 25 minutes turning several times until juices run clear. Dip wings in remaining glaze. Grill wings an additional 3 to 5 minutes turning once. Serve warm with additional reserved glaze on the side.
Do you have an idea for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.