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Winging It (01-27-2016)

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Area restaurants chime in on classic Super Bowl staple

For many, the Super Bowl is a big deal (though it may be less of a big deal now that the Pats are out). But for some (present company included), the biggest Football event of the season is less about the game and more about food and the commercials.

One food stands out above the rest as a Super Bowl staple and that is chicken wings bone-in or boneless (also known as chicken tenders), typically fried and smothered in various sauces to become something greater than a simple piece of chicken. It becomes the centerpiece of an American event.

There are differing reports on how Buffalo wings came into existence, though all accounts point to Buffalo, New York

Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery (Bangor)

Geaghan's is doing something right. They've sold 65,800 pounds of boneless wings, and over 1 million individual wings.

Peter Geaghan said that it's all about fresh ingredients.

'You want the best quality products that you can get your hands on,' he said in a phone interview. 'It has to be consistent and you have to be getting it out consistently.'

Geaghan thinks two elements in particular set their bone-in and boneless wings apart from the crowd. The first is the homemade blue cheese dressing (which has massive chunks of blue cheese). The other would be their Reserve Sauce - which, if you haven't had it, is a smoky-sweet sauce with a serious but not deadly kick.

'We're not going to give up our secret ingredient,' said Geaghan. But he noted that they don't have hard-and-fast measurements when it comes to sauce distribution. 'It's kind of a free-hand thing. We have a squeeze bottle and just hit it with that. It's not an exact amount in that way.'

As for the debate of bone-in vs. boneless, Peter Geaghan has a preference:

'Personally, I'm a bone-in guy. I like them meaty and fatty and all the bad stuff,' he said.

And of course, wing sauce can be used in creative ways. The Chieftain is a blending of Geaghan's wings and pub cheese in an omelet; the Chieftain melt is a sandwich version.

Dysart's Truck Stop (Hermon & Bangor)

John Mason, the restaurant manager at Dysart's, said that their chicken tenders remain one of their most popular dishes.

'In the process we use fresh chicken in a brine solution. After that we bread it in our special breading that we mix, but it's the brining process that infuses them with all this flavor,' he said.

And for the weekend of the Super Bowl, Dysart's can sell anywhere between 160 to 200 pounds of tenders.

'They hold the heat rather well [but if you need to re-heat them], just pop them in the microwave for a short time, or in the oven on low to give some crisp to them. The oven would be the best bet,' said Mason.

He recommends pairing the tenders with your favorite sauce such as ranch or blue cheese - and notes they have a sweet chili sauce that is quite popular as well.

'It's got a little bit of sweet and nice hot spicy kick at the end,' he said.

The Roost (Orono & Farmington)

The Roost in Orono is another location famous for their wings. To say that wings are their thing would be something of an understatement. They average approximately 900 pounds of wings on Super Bowl Sunday and 30,000 pounds per year.

'We use fresh, never frozen wings from local distributors. We par-cook our wings after we season them at low temperatures so they can be served nice and crispy when they are ordered,' said General Manager Dave Coffe in an email response to our questions. 'The sauce that remains our signature has to be Carolina Lightning. It's a tangy golden barbecue sauce that finishes with a nice bit of heat. The Carolina Lightning is definitely our most popular sauce, because you don't see it anywhere else. It's our owner's recipe and made the same way every time, so consistency plays a huge role in it.'

Coffe noted that The Roost features a new sauce every Tuesday (Wing Night).

'People love it and look forward to what we might come up with next,' he said. 'We've done things from peanut butter and jelly to coconut rum and coke flavored sauces. It's a lot of fun and allows our kitchen staff to get really creative.'

And they're no stranger to creative dishes.

'We have a sandwich called the Awkward Buffalo. It's a grilled chicken, tossed in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese, carrot and celery coleslaw. Then [the sandwich] gets one single buffalo wing on top of the bun,' he said. 'It's a little awkward, but we like to have fun with things here and don't take ourselves too seriously.'

How hot you want your wings is a matter for debate. Geaghan's offers a sauce that ranges from mild to 'ouch' on their menu. Peter Geaghan said that they add minced habaneros in with the regular hot sauce.

'It's pretty mean stuff. I can't do it,' he said.

At the Roost, they have the Nuclear Sauce, which features the Ghost Pepper. According to the Scoville Pepper Scale, the Naga Jolokia or Ghost Pepper ranges from 855,000 to 1,041,427 just under pepper spray.

As for bone-in vs. boneless:

'I'm all about the bone-in wing,' said Coffe. 'They have a lot more flavors and textures. They hold the sauce well and they're fun to eat. Plus I love eating with my hands.'

If you eat at the Roost, each table comes with a roll of paper towels if things get saucy.

'It's best to just eat them and clean yourself up at the end. That's my style,' he said.

If you are bringing the wings home, he suggests picking them up at halftime to eat them hot, but suggests fans can also get inexpensive warmers and trays to keep them warm on a buffet table.

The above are just a sampling of the wonderful places you can get wings for the big game. Be sure to tell us what your favorite Super Bowl food is by emailing us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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