THE APPETIZER – A mess worth making

By Eleni Upah

Wash your hands and tuck that napkin into your shirt — it’s time to get messy. Chicken wings are a fan favorite when it comes to appetizers, so it’s only fitting to celebrate them in the poultry issue. While boneless wings have staged a major takeover in this food category, there’s just something about using your hands and tearing the meat straight from the bones of a traditional wing.

The trick to truly enjoying a plate of wings is throwing caution to the wind and choosing not to care that you have a combination of buffalo sauce and ranch dressing surrounding your mouth and dripping from your hands. Chicken wings are meant to be devoured with hands, not knife and fork.

The traditional wings at Jethro’s are slow-smoked for two hours and flash-fried to order every day. Find more finger-lickin’ wings at Down Under, Jethro’s, Granite City, Quinton’s and The Other Place.

The traditional wings at Jethro’s are slow-smoked for two hours and flash-fried to order every day. Find more finger-lickin’ wings at Down Under, Jethro’s, Granite City, Quinton’s and The Other Place.

“Companywide, we definitely get more foot traffic for boneless (wings),” said Brit Stechalin, general manager at the Jethro’s BBQ and Pork Chop Grill in Johnston. “I just prefer the traditional wings because they’re slow-smoked, they’re juicy, they’re fall-off-the-bone good. They’re both fantastic — everything’s prepped and made in-house; it’s very quality chicken.”

Jethro’s takes special care in preparing hundreds of chicken wings every day. They are first rubbed with a seasoned chicken rub, which Stechalin says gives them a nice flavor for guests who order wings “naked,” meaning sauces on the side. After the rub, they are slow-smoked for two hours. After that the wings are flash-fried to order and tossed in sauce. Jethro’s has a multitude of sauce options, including a new special starting on the first of every month. June’s sauce was Bacon and Bleu — the winner of the wing sauce contest earlier this year developed by Altoona’s kitchen manager Mike Booth. Stechalin says it’s been very popular. Other top sellers are the barbecue rub and the chili teriyaki.

As a restaurant that celebrates all things meat, wings are a big part of the dining experience at every Jethro’s location. The company has two days dedicated to them: Tuesdays are 2-for-1 bone-in wings, and Thursdays are half-priced boneless wings for dine-in guests. Stechalin says the Johnston location prepares about 1,600 wings on an average day and close to 2,200 on Tuesdays.

Between all five locations, Jethro’s goes through about 135 40-pound cases of wings each week.

So get your appetite ready and grab some wet wipes — there’s a lot of chicken to be eaten here. RELISH

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Categories: The Appetizer

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