Today is National Buffalo Soldier Day. It should come as no surprise that once upon a time in America’s history, segregation existed even in the military. Although several African American regiments were raised during the Civil War as part of the Union Army, Buffalo Soldiers were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular Army.
The nickname Buffalo Soldiers was given to Black Cavalry by Native Americans who fought in the Indian Wars. They thought the hair of the black soldiers looked like the hair on a buffalo’s head.. Some of the first National Park Rangers were actually regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers before the creation of actual rangers. Buffalo Soldier Day began in 1992, when a monument to the Buffalo Soldier was dedicated at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas by General Colin Powell.
Now that we’ve got the formalities of the day out of the way, let’s move on to the food portion of our post. Buffalo Soldier reminded me of two things – buffalo burgers and Buffalo New York. There was something unsettling about eating ground up buffalo meat to honor Buffalo Soldiers. Just a little too twisted, don’t you think? So let’s skip the Buffalo Meat idea all together.
Naturally, the idea of Buffalo New York sprang to mind because we all know in 1964 Teressa Bellissimo served up the first ever Buffalo Wings at the Anchor Bar. Teressa wasn’t trying to create a Super Bowl craze with her wings. At the time chicken wings were inexpensive, used in soups or stocks and little else. As the story goes, the bar had received a delivery of chicken wings instead of backs and necks that had been ordered to make the bar’s signature spaghetti sauce. Frank Bellissimo had asked his wife to figure out a way of using up the wings. She had come up empty handed. After all, it was a Friday night in the predominately Italian-Catholic section of Buffalo. No one was eating chicken. The barkeep’s son, Dominic, along with several of his friends from college, stopped in the Anchor Bar to do a little celebrating. The bar was hopping and a lot of people were buying the boys drinks. Dominic wanted to do something special for them at midnight, when the mostly Catholic patrons could eat meat again as it would no longer be Friday. He shared this desire with his mother, who came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings. It made sense. The deep fried wings were then doused in a spicy pepper sauce and offered up to the rowdy crowd. While there are other tales that claim to be the true origin of the Buffalo Wing, I rather fancy this one. Family run bar, college kids, and people generally being nice to one another.
Tomorrow is actually National Chicken Wing Day. That’s okay, because today we’re having boneless Buffalo Chicken. We all know there’s no such thing as boneless wings, but rather breasts that have been cut up to resemble bite-size boneless wings. Since no wings are used, it’s not like I’ve jumped the gun on National Wing Day. Tomorrow we can talk wings . . . today it’s all about Buffalo Chicken Bites.
Boneless Baked Buffalo Chicken Bites
1 cup Flour
2/3 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Egg Whites
1/4 cup Milk
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine the flour, panko breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a small mixing bowl. Whisk the egg(s) and milk together in a small bowl.
Place a piece of foil or parchment paper onto a rimmed baking sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Cut chicken breast into chunks or strips that are no more than two or three bites, much like a chicken wing. Pat dry with paper towels.
Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip each piece into the egg mixture, then into the breading blend.
Tip: Use one hand to handle the egg mixture and the other hand for the breading to make it easier. For a thicker batter, dip each piece in egg, breading, egg then a last dip in breading.
Arrange the chicken on the baking sheet and then spray a light coating of cooking spray over the chicken pieces. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and begins to lightly brown.
Turn the heat up to broil and continue to cook the chicken for 1-2 more minutes or until the surface begins to become golden brown and crispy, watching it carefully.
Remove from the oven and let them cool while you make the sauce.
1/4 Cup Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Water
Combine the Buffalo Wing Sauce, butter, and in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
Place chicken into a large mixing bowl. Pour warmed sauce over the chicken. Toss the chicken and hot sauce together until all pieces are coated. Serve immediately.
To make ahead: Once the chicken is cooked through but before the 1-2 minute broil, take the chicken out of the oven. Let cool completely then freeze. When ready to bake, remove from freezer and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until warmed through. Toss with sauce and serve.
Serve with fries for a “snacking” meal. Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing make excellent dips.