A couple of weeks ago I was asked to participate in a celebration for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and their 100 Year anniversary. For 100 years, the people at Hellmann’s have been making, in my opinion, a superior product. Hellmann’s mayonnaise makes things better. When I was asked to participate in this recipe contest, I jumped at the chance.
I mean this quite sincerely, Hellmann’s is the only brand I buy. I can’t remember a time in my life when Hellmann’s wasn’t in my refrigerator. Growing up, my parents would take home-grown tomatoes that had been peeled and sliced thick and sandwich them between two slices of white bread and a generous helping of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. My favorite Sunday mornings included BLTs with Hellman’s mayonnaise instead of bacon and eggs. I rarely make any type of dip without the stuff. I’m not usually this brand specific, but if it’s mayonnaise, it has to be Hellmann’s. That should totally be their slogan.
As if my loyalty to Hellmann’s mayonnaise wasn’t enough, the recipe contest required me to choose between six recipes that featured Hellmann’s products and which were written by none other than Mario Batali. Mario Batali is definitely one of my food heroes and his approach to food is respectful and beautiful. He takes the best ingredients and highlights them while creating a dish that is authentic and relatable. It’s no wonder he chose to work with Hellmann’s.
Each one of Mr. Batali’s recipes looked like a winner and I waffled between each recipe, sure that you would be happy with any of them. It’s Mario Batali after all. What it came down to, though, was what I wanted to eat the most. That was clearly chicken wings with lots and lots of dip. Dip always wins.
Mario Batali’s recipe called for a chili-based dry rub and broiled crispy skin. It also called for a White BBQ sauce which used Hellmann’s mayonnaise as the base. Having never heard of any type of “white BBQ sauce” I was immediately intrigued.
I studied the recipe and took Mario Batali’s notes and made them my own. I decided to keep the skin really crispy rather than a typical sauced wing and make them extra juicy by brining them in a buttermilk and Old Bay brine. Once brined, they’d get a quick fry in hot oil just to sear the skin and keep the juices in, then generously dusted in Old Bay again before finishing in the oven. The result was an extremely crispy, juicy wing that was complemented by a creamy, tangy sauce with Hellmann’s at the base.
Are you intrigued too? Good.
Arrange them on a plate and serve up the sauce in small bowls. Add some carrots and quartered radishes and of course, celery sticks, which I didn’t have, because I’m a poor planner.
Let’s start with the sauce. The White BBQ sauce was the perfect compliment to the spiced crispy wings. It was creamy and cooling but finished with a kick from the horseradish. It’s zippy, that’s for sure, and provided a flavor component that was completely unique to my wing-eating repertoire.
It’s decidedly not blue cheese dressing, so if that’s what you’re looking for, keep looking. However, if you’re tired of the same old chicken wing song and dance, and are up for a little adventure, if adventure can be described as a sauce, I think you will love this. The Hellmann’s mayonnaise gives it a reliable creamy base which is kicked up by the somewhat uncommon additions. I’m eager to try this style of BBQ sauce on other stand-bys. Ribs, brisket, a pulled pork sandwich… this sauce can do it all.
The wings themselves are delightful. They are incredibly moist and tender, due to the long soak in the buttermilk brine, and because of the hybrid fry-then-roast cooking method, all that juiciness stays inside while the skin gets crispy and crusty.
A light dip in the White BBQ sauce, the cool crunch of a carrot, and a cold beer and you’re well on your way to wing heaven. Serve these as an appetizer for a summer party, take them to a picnic, or serve them for dinner like we did. Either way, they’ll be enjoyed and they’ll be gone.
You too can join the Hellmann’s 100 year Anniversary celebration and create your own spin on one of Mario Batali’s recipes. Enter to win a place at the World’s Longest Picnic Table by visiting the contest page and participating!
You can also visit the Hellmann’s Facebook page to watch Mario Batali share his modern twist on some of Hellmann’s classic recipes while showcasing how decades of delicious meals start with real, quality ingredients. You’ll also see how as part of the 100 year anniversary celebration, Hellmann’s is helping provide one million meals to Feeding America to help fight against hunger nationwide.
Here’s the recipe!
Buttermilk Brined Old Bay Wings with White BBQ Sauce (Adapted from Mario Batali)
For the White BBQ Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 lemon’s juice and zest
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon spicy mustard
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chopped lemon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In a medium bowl, whisk together Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise, horseradish, onion powder, lemon juice, lemon zest, Worcestershire sauce, spicy mustard, honey, and vinegar until very smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon thyme. Whisk well.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours so the flavors can marry.
- 24 chicken wing pieces (wingettes and drumettes)
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 1 Tablespoon Old Bay, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Oil (enough for 1 inch in a large cast iron skillet)
- Prepare the brine: Add chicken wings to a very heavy-duty bag or large bowl. Cover with buttermilk then season with Old Bay, cayenne, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. When the wings are brined, remove them from the buttermilk brine and pat them very dry with a paper towel. Transfer dried wings to a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Heat an inch of oil in a cast iron skillet fitted with a fry thermometer to 325-350 degrees. You just want to brown the skin, so the temperature needs to be hot enough to sizzle, but not necessarily precise. Set a broiler pan or a baking sheet with a wire rack on top aside.
- Using tongs and being oh so very careful, add wings to the hot oil and let cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until the skin is lightly golden brown all over. Transfer the wings to the broiler pan skin side up and dust liberally with Old Bay seasoning. Repeat until all the wings are lightly fried and dusted in Old Bay.
- Transfer wings to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then remove the wings, flip them over and dust them with more Old Bay. Place them back in the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat closest to the bone on your biggest chicken wing is white when cut into.
- Serve with raw vegetables and plenty of White BBQ sauce. A cold beer doesn’t hurt either.