Small game hunters can use this recipe to prepare one of America’s favorite barroom appetizers. Chicken wings are replaced with squirrel or rabbit legs to make a spicy, crowd-pleasing finger food.
Buffalo Hot Legs:
2 to 3 squirrels and/or cottontail rabbits
2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts peanut oil
1 ½ cups Frank’s Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
5 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons white vinegar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
Celery and carrot sticks, for serving
Blue cheese dressing, for serving
Cut the squirrels into 4 leg pieces and 2 back pieces. Cut the rear legs of cottontails into 2 pieces and the back into 3 or 4 pieces.
Sprinkle all the pieces with 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt and the pepper. Heat the oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven until it registers 300°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Group the pieces of meat by size—front legs together, rear legs together, back pieces together. Carefully lower 6 to 8 small pieces into the hot oil and cook until light golden brown in color, moving the pieces around occasionally to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining smaller pieces. Fry the larger pieces for a total of 8 minutes.
While you’re frying, prepare the buffalo sauce by warming the hot sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Slowly stir in the butter until it has fully melted, then remove from the heat.
Increase the heat of the oil to 375°F and fry the squirrel or rabbit pieces for a second time to finish crisping the exterior, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer the pieces to a large draining rack.
Toss half of the piping hot pieces in a bowl with half of the buffalo sauce, coating them thoroughly. Repeat with the remaining meat and sauce. Serve immediately—so you maintain that double fried crunch—as you would traditional Buffalo wings, with celery, carrots, and blue cheese dressing.
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