Today I walked into another hour of volunteering with a group of 3rd graders. The teacher is a wonderful writing instructor and appreciates that I can help students focus on their writing and she pretty much allows me to wander and help as I see fit. Today I walked around for a bit offering some advice, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a student whose head was buried under his hands on his desk and clearly was off task. I walked over and sat down next to him. He moved away. I waited patiently for him to lift his head, and when he finally did (about 3 minutes later) he said, "Go away."
"But I'm here to help you. Let me see what you have so far," I said gently.
"Go away. I don't like this."
"Come on. At least show me what you've got," I cajoled. I waited a bit longer and he finally sat up and glared at me.
"Sit up straight and show me what you have," I told him.
"I'm tooooo tired!" and he proceeded to yawn like a lion ready to settle down for a long nap.
I waited some more. After a long few minutes of struggle and cajoling and working with him, we had a basic plan for his writing. I asked him to start. He once again put his head under his desk. I asked him to start again. His body slumped more and I kept on waiting.
"Why won't you go away?" he asked, voice muffled, from his face down position.
"Because I'm here to help you and I want to see you get your thoughts on paper," I reminded him.
"But I don't WANT your help," he said.
"I know. But I'm here anyways."
"Can you PLEASE just go away?" he begged.
"Not until you're sitting straight at your desk and you try to do what we've planned out."
Across the desk, his classmate kept muttering under her breath, "You should give up. He's not going to do it. You're making him do something he can't do. You're being mean to him. He's always like this."
Some stubborn teacher gene in me kept at the activity, despite the peanut gallery commentary across the desk. I spent more than 20 minutes with him, and finally at the end of the 20 minutes, he began to write. He even wrote on the three things that we had agreed upon. He even asked me how to spell "ferris" (as in wheel) which he had misspelled "ferres." He even managed to put in his periods and capitalize the beginning of every sentence.
Was it the world's most deep and profound piece of writing? Or course not. Not in 20 minutes from a 3rd grader. But I felt good afterwards because he finally pushed through to the end, albeit with the most protracted protests ever. I learned a lot from my 20 minutes with him that sometimes you just have to push through. He had to push through, if only to get rid of my annoying presence. I had to push through to just finish something that I had started. And sometimes, just pushing through means you get to the other side and you can look back upon what you've accomplished.
When I think about cooking chicken wings, I often find myself daunted. There is the oil, the flour, all the dredging, the mess, the smells, the overwhelming extra of all that STUFF. This means I don't fry often and if I do choose to fry, I like to fry for many people if I'm going through the motions anyways. I had these dry brined chicken wings in my head, ever since I saw a recipe in my BonApetit magazine that talked about dry brining fried chicken. I finally decided to push through and go ahead and make the recipe that was sitting in my head in hopes of something great. I was not disappointed. The chicken was juicy, flavorful with the lightest flour coating to make things a little bit crispy. If you're looking for a wing with a thick, super crunchy coating, this is not the wing for you. But if you like the light, crispy, golden taste of fried chicken - well then - push on through and make these.
Dry-Brined Fried Chicken Wings
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 to 4 lbs chicken wings, wing tips removed, drummettes and wings separated
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Sprinkle all over chicken wings and mix well, making sure all chicken receives some of the spicy mixture. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.
When ready to fry, let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour before frying.. Whisk flour, salt, pepper in a bowl.
Heat oil in a large heavy pan (or cast iron skillet if you're lucky to have one.) Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet to allow chicken wings to drain after frying.
Dip chicken, one at a time into flour mixture, lightly coating the entire wing in flour. Carefully add 10 to 12 wings into the hot oil and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet/pot, allowing excess oil to drip back into pan; transfer chicken to prepared rack.
Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.