In my early days of traveling for work, I’d often find myself at some crappy bar and grill (one of many chains that all serve the same terrible food) debating between ordering wings or ribs… about a year ago I came across an idea in the comment section of a web blog. In fact, it was this blog post… one of the BEST Blog posts of all time! The idea was to take chicken skin, wrap it around a rib, fry it, and toss in buffalo sauce.
There was a flaw in this idea… I had to save chicken skin to make a reasonable quantity of ribs. Until I discovered Super H-Mart, a Korean grocery chain. If you haven’t yet, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out your local asian/ethnic grocery stores. They are a great source for unique produce, cuts of meat, spices, and other ingredients. On this trip to H-mart I found the last package of chicken skin. YES! Chicken. SKIN! Best of all, 1.3 pounds of it was just $0.90. I was so excited that I posted this picture on Facebook… which one of my friends said looks like a package of his grandma.
I grabbed a few packages of pork baby back ribs and hit a few other isles for some pantry staples.
Once at home I found that the chicken skin had come from the legs of several chickens, so I cut them open and scraped the back side of excess fat.
I lined up ribs and chicken skin, sprinkled with a little ActivaRM (aka Meat Glue) and wrapped the skin around the ribs.
The next day, I placed the vacuum pouches into a 55.2C water bath to cook for about 6 hours. I chose this temperature because the Activa enzyme (transglutaminase) works super good between 50-58C. This is known at the heat set method. At 55.2C, I knew that the ribs would be adequately tender in about 6 hours.
After swimming for 6 hours, I opened the bags, dried off each rib, and placed the ribs on a sheet tray in the fridge. I did not cover them because I wanted to make sure the skin dried out (makes for crispier when fried.)
After the fry I tossed in Red Bull Habanero Sauce (recipe follows) with sliced scallions, habanero peppers, and manzana chiles.
The result was a deliciously moist and tender rib, wrapped in perfectly crisp chicken skin (the BEST part of any chicken). To top it all off — a rich, buttery, sweet, and spicy sauce accented with the bit of fresh green onion and colorful peppers.
Get yourself some meat glue (available at Modernist Pantry or Willpowders) search your local Asian markets for chicken skin (or save some up) and buy a case of Red Bull and make some WIBS! (This sauce is wicked good on regular chicken wings too.
Red Bull Habanero Sauce (If you can make this, you can also make Burre Blanc, but that’s another recipe)
20oz Red Bull (don’t use sugar free for this sauce, you need the sugar)
2-3 Habanero Peppers (depending on your heat preference)
2 sticks of butter, room temp, sliced into 1 tblspn pieces
1/4 TblSpn Xanthan Gum (Optional)
Cut and “X” in the bottom of each of the habaneros, leave the pepper attached at the stem side. This will allow the Red Bull to come in contact with the seeds and capsaicin (hotness) of the pepper. In a small sauce pan, float the peppers in the Red Bull and reduce over high heat. You want to reduce the liquid by 3/4. Once the liquid has reduced by half, you will want to lower the heat to medium and watch it very carefully. Once it gets near 25% of the original volume, it will burn quickly and you’ll have to start over completely.
At 25% original volume, the Red Bull will have a thin syrup consistency. Taste it. It should be sweet with a good amount of heat and tang… Reduce it further if the sweetness isn’t to your liking. Allow the peppers to steep if the heat is too mild. If it’s too spicy, grow a pair… actually, the heat will mellow out once the butter is added.
Once the reduction is to your liking, remove the peppers and seeds that may have escaped their habanero pods. Using an immersion blender, and one pat of butter at a time, and blend until it’s completely melted. Repeat this until all of the butter has been incorporated. It’s important to completely blend each piece of butter or the sauce could break. If you’re not serving immediately, add about 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum and blend well (after all the butter has been worked in). The xanthan will make the emulsion stable for good long time… longer than it will last.
If holding for service, there’s a good chance of the butter setting up, warm gently in a water bath or double boiler before tossing WIBS in.