Aired November 7, 2011
3 cups crumbled Ritz crackers (about 3 small sleeves)
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups crumbled blue cheese
Canola oil, for frying
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeos
1 1/2 cups hot sauce (I recommend Crystal)
1 celery head, cut into matchsticks
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, 1 1/2 cups of the Ritz crackers, the black pepper, paprika, basil, celery 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.
Preheat the oven to 275F. Pour 2 inches of canola oil into a large, deep skillet and heat the oil to 350F over medium-high heat. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet.
Form the chicken mixture into walnut-size balls and set them aside on a plate. Beat the egg on a shallow bowl and place remaining 1 1/2 cups of 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 cooking, 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.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and jalapeos and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and keep warm over low heat.
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.