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Chicken wings on menu for several football fans
Finger food popular treat for Super Bowl watchers
Johnny’s Barbecue bakes up a fresh batch of chicken wings daily to offer to customers at the restaurant off Cleveland Highway. - photo by J.K. Devine

For Johnny's Barbecue chicken wings and Crevolyn Wiley's favority football wings, click here.

Football season and chicken wings seem to go hand-in-hand, literally. And with Super Bowl XLVIII four days away, many cooks will prepare their own homemade wings or start placing orders at area restaurants.

Tharpe Ward, owner of Johnny’s Barbecue, expects some of his customers to order his new wings, recently added to menu at the restaurant off Cleveland Highway. Johnny’s Barbecue put chicken wings on its menu four months ago after cooking them for years for family and friends.

“We’d been cooking them for ourselves for a long time,” Ward said recently before his restaurant opened. “My wife said why not sell them since it is something everyone likes.”

Ward believes people enjoy his wings because of the dry rub and the cooking method.

“Most restaurants fry them and ours are smoked, so they are a lot less greasy,” Ward said, noting he smokes chicken using hickory wood.

The born-and-bred Gainesville man also applies a dry rub and seasoning to his chicken wings, making them less hot than others.

“The closest (seasoning) to our's is Tony Chachere’s. It’s a cajun seasoning,” he said, adding he will not divulge his own secret seasoning recipe.

But he said chicken wings are easy to make, which is probably why they are popular with men during football season.

“And guys love something they can get a hold of,” he said.

Cookbook author and Gainesville resident Crevolyn Wiley agreed.

“When you are watching football or tailgating, then you don’t have to have a plate or fork” when eating wings, she said. “And that’s why they are so popular.”

She also makes her chicken wings for her family during football season because “it’s what my family enjoys.”

“And they are so easy to do,” she said.

Wiley devised her chicken wing recipe by altering an old church cookbook recipe with one ingredient: Italian salad dressing.

“I used it in another baked chicken recipe,” she said. “And I thought ‘Well, we are going to bake the chicken wings, so let’s try it with that.’”

The end result delighted her family.

“Everybody loved them,” she said.

Wiley explained the Italian salad dressing and soy sauce act as a marinade for the wings, which she allows to seep into the chicken overnight.

“That’s the key, I think, to the flavor,” she said.

But she added a Texas Pete sauce or buffalo wing sauce can be substituted.

After the overnight or at least 4-hour soak, she bakes them for a healthier version than frying them.

“Of course, that’s if you really can be healthy with chicken wings,” she said, laughing.