It's really cool to find inspiration by seeing something from a new perspective, and that's how this recipe came about. Through my affiliation with Nabisco, I was asked to make some original recipes using Ritz crackers for the Super Bowl. I didn't want to go with the usual idea of what you can do with cheese and crackers-I had to go big. Now, one of my favorite tailgate foods is Buffalo wings . . . question was, how to combine them? Ahaaa . . . this is my solution.
1. In a meat grinder with a medium die, grind the chicken thighs to "chili grind," or have your butcher do it for you. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, 11/2 cups of the Ritz crackers, the black pepper, paprika, basil, cel-ery salt, cumin, white pepper, half the cayenne pepper, and 1 cup of the blue cheese. Mix well to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Pour 2 inches of canola oil into a large, deep skillet and heat the oil to 350 degrees F over medium-high heat. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.
3. Form the chicken mixture into walnut-size balls and set them aside on a plate. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl and place the remaining 1 1/2 cups crackers in another bowl. Dip each ball in the egg and then roll it in the crackers, covering it thoroughly. Add the balls to the hot oil (in batches so as not to crowd them) and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. They cook very quickly, so working with a few at a time will help. As they finish cook-ing, place the balls on the rack over the baking sheet. When all the balls are fried, place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
1. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and keep warm over low heat.
2. To serve, drizzle the hot sauce over the Buffalo balls or serve it as a dip on the side. Celery sticks and the remaining blue cheese make a cooling addition.
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