Nancy Silverton once told me that when she and Mark Peel first opened Campanile restaurant, one night a customer beckoned her over imperiously. "What's this? What's this?," she practically shouted. She was holding up a chicken breast — a bone-in chicken breast. It seems the woman had never encountered a bone before.
In the normal course of things, that's the last thing you'd expect to find at McDonald's as well. But McDonald's has just introduced Mighty Wings — just in time for football season and with a limited run until the end of November.
So I stop at my local Micky D's to see what all the fuss is about.
A stand-up billboard next to the ordering line trumpets: "Mighty Wings!" My first thought is: What are they doing on the menu at the world's biggest fast-food chain, one known for its burgers?
The new Mighty Wings come in sets of three ($3.19), five ($4.99) and 10 ($8.99), the latter clearly the best deal at less than $1 a wing.
Want the calorie count? It's 290, 480, and 960 — or just under 100 calories per wing. That's without dipping sauce, however. If you plan on dunking the wings in Chipotle Barbecue, Sweet Chili, Spicy Buffalo or Hot Mustard, you'll have to do your own calculating.
I bought the five-in-one model, which comes in a sweet little cardboard box. Open it up and there they are: five wings, each piece either a drumette or the wingette — a deep, golden brown.
They taste as if they were fried just that minute — piping-hot, with a crunchy batter that's more crumb than batter, with a nice kick of cayenne and chili pepper and just enough grease to make these fried wings taste authentic. The breading is crisp and the meat is moist and firm.
I'm thinking: A good option if you have the hankering for fried chicken and don't want to mess up your kitchen — or eat an entire bucket of fried chicken. Just enough to satisfy a craving.
"Best thing here," my partner in this wing expedition announces exactly as I'm getting out the same words.
But will these wings fly at these prices? Maybe yes, if enough people actually try them. And if every order tastes as freshly fried as mine did on Day Three of the Mighty Wings launch.