When your professor is a professional wing judge | The Triangle

When your professor is a professional wing judge

What makes the perfect wing, you may ask? If you’re around Drexel, just turn to Professor Jonathan Deutsch for his expertise on the subject. (Photograph courtesy of mrpizzamandc at Pixabay.)

Some things just go together. Whether it’s tradition, superstition, or preference, Superbowl Sunday and wings go hand and hand. Drexel and the surrounding West Philly area has a number of popular wing destinations to order from. Ed’s Buffalo Wings & Pizza, America’s Best Wings, and Axis Pizza are only a few of many. But what makes a good wing great?

The Triangle decided to investigate and ask an expert. Dr. Jonathan Deutsch of Drexel’s Department of Food and Hospitality Management helped us get to the truth about wings. Deutsch, who judged “Wing Wars” in Atlantic City the past weekend on January 25 gave some insightful background on how wings became associated with bars and beer.

“Some late 19th and early 20th century restaurants that served the highly valued cuts like breasts and legs in the dining room in classic dishes like sautéed chicken breast or coq au vin (chicken legs braised in red wine) would collect the leftover wings and fry them as a bar snack (before the brilliant invention of Buffalo sauce). That’s one of the origin stories for how wings came to be associated with bars and beer,” he said.

Who knew chicken wings originated from being, essentially, “leftovers”? The food industry clearly fell into a well-loved combination of wings, beer and football. But why use the “wings” of the chicken?

“It was an easy way to use more of the animal and not let any part of it go to waste,” said Deutsch, “These days, wings have become so popular that they can cost more than the other parts, especially around peak times like Superbowl Sunday.”

Although they started as snacks to avoid food waste, wings are now a beloved and cherished part of Superbowl Sunday culture. Questions still remain, what do you look for when judging “the best wing”?

“From a culinary perspective, in judging a good wing, I look for a good meat-to-bone ratio, crisp outside, and moist inside. The best wings don’t require a lot of chewing—the meat pulls easily from the bone,” he said.

The wing itself may be the most important aspect of a good wing overall, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk brining and seasoning.

Photograph courtesy of Drexel University.

According to Deutsch,“brining the wings in advance allows the seasoning to penetrate all the way to the bone. Brining is not a must, but good seasoning is, whether it’s in the form of a sauce, dry rub, or dipping sauce.“

Lastly, we wanted to know, what pairs well with the perfect wing?

“While there are a million types of sauces and combinations of dipping sauces to go with them, I’m a purist,” Deutsch admits, “Buffalo sauce and bleu cheese. If there’s a better combination I’ve not experienced it yet.”

Environment is another important aspect to achieve the full wing experience. Professor Deutsch closed out his wing knowledge with these wise words:

“While wings can be easily made at home, it seems to be one of those foods that tastes best surrounded by good friends and entertainment.”

As Superbowl Sunday nears, The Triangle Staff hopes all of its readers and wing fans get to experience the perfect wing this weekend. There’s meatless wings out there, too!