Roberts is a partner in a popular chain of tavern/bowling alleys in San Diego (too bad he hasn't opened one here), so he has a lot of experience making crowd-pleasing wings. So much so that Frank's RedHot Sauce has signed him up as their national spokesman and brand ambassador. He is also the official wing consultant for Yankee Stadium. Now that's a position I was unaware was available.
I spoke with Roberts about grilling and winging it for about an hour last week while attending the Memphis in May World BBQ Championship, where he was presiding over the Frank's Hot Wing Eating competitions that took place next to the main stage every couple of hours. As a representative of Frank's, which is a member of the French's family of products, Roberts naturally prefers some of their other wares like Cattleman's BBQ Sauce and French's mustard when he is grilling.
This isn't as much of a pander as you might think, as many of the winning competitors at Memphis in May endorsed Cattleman's, and Frank's is the original buffalo wing sauce. When Roberts makes ribs, he slathers his ribs in French's to add just a little tang to them, but more importantly to keep them moist while they cook. Most of the mustard burns off anyway, so you'd probably only notice a slight nuance in the flavors afterwards. For his wet rib sauce, he mixes Frank's and Cattleman's to make what he calls his "Tavern-style" sauce.
For wings, he suggests boiling them in your favorite craft beer for about 10 minutes until the wings are cooked through and really tender. Since nobody likes soggy wings, you need to crisp them up somehow, so he recommends either flash-frying them or grilling them until the skin is crispy before tossing them in the Tavern-style sauce.
I tried some of his wings, and I have to admit that for ease of preparation and the sweet/hot flavor that I usually prefer, they were spot on. I have generally preferred Alton Brown's preparation in the past, but dang, those things take two hours to make. I can use that extra time to eat more wings.
Roberts shared his easy recipe with Bites readers:
Kevin Roberts' Hot Wings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1 (4 lb.) bag frozen or fresh chicken wings (try to get a combination of wings and drumettes)
1/2 cup FRANK'S RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Boil the wings in a large pot for 10 minutes. Drain water and excess fat from wings when done.
Grill wings on barbecue until crispy. In a large bowl, combine Frank's RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce and barbecue sauce.
When wings are nice and crispy, add them to the bowl and coat well.
You can also use Frank's Sweet Chili sauce for an Asian flair — I have done that to great success in the past. Their latest product is Frank's Thick sauce, which Roberts describes as "adult ketchup." Mix it with either blue cheese or ranch dressing for a dipping sauce for chicken fingers that will light you up.
Roberts came to the culinary world with a background in nutrition and kinesthesiology, and has become a popular speaker on college campuses as he teaches new students how to shop and cook for themselves for the first time while avoiding the dreaded "Freshman 15."
He also has two cookbooks, Munchies: Cook What You Want, Eat What You Like and Kissing in the Kitchen: Cooking With Passion in print, and a third is on the way. He also shares a few more recipes on his website if you're interested in learning more.