Stop! Don't touch that back button! A chicken cannoli is not as crazy as it sounds. It's a make ahead, Southwest version of Buffalo chicken wings that frees me up to enjoy the football game and not miss all the fun.
My name is Sandy and I love football. There. I said it. I know it's not the trendy thing to say, or the girlie thing to say, but I can't keep it a secret any longer. Some people may blame my childhood; growing up between two brothers, playing touch football in the street, listening to my parents bet lobster dinners on playoff games and negotiate the point spread for the best advantage. Others may blame the fact that I have lived most of my life in a house with a sports loving husband and two athletic sons. What's the word for it? Stockholm Syndrome?
What ever the reason, on Super Bowl Sunday, you will find me right there in the middle of things, cheering, arguing calls from the referees and yelling, "Rip their filthy ears off..." Never mind.
Needless to say, the Super Bowl is a pretty big deal at my house. I love to have a big selection of appetizers made ahead and ready to go so that I don't miss a minute of the action. First, I clear the sofa table and remove all knickknacks, tchotchkes and other feminine breakables to a safer location making room for the parade of chips, dips, popcorn and even a puff pastry delight or two. Mind you, the puff pastry must be filled with hearty meats like pastrami or be sidelined until Valentine's Day , Oscar night or some such girlie holiday. No brie or sushi allowed.
This year, "the boys" are asking for Buffalo wings. Yes, Buffalo wings. While I am coming out of the closet about football, I must also disclose my dislike of Buffalo wings. Forget the fact that you have to fry them at game time and miss all the pre-grame chatter, they're sticky and messy and full of veins and so little meat that people suck on the bones and... never mind.
My solution? I decided to deconstruct what they love about Buffalo wings and put them back together my way. The game plan was to attack the "spicy hot" element with a Buffalo chicken salad that can be made a head, freeing up time for puff pastry thingies. The crunch of the hot wings was a little trickier. I had to bring out the secret weapon of all Sonoran Southwest cooks, the flour tortilla. No one can resist spicy chicken wrapped up in a crispy flour tortilla. I cut the flour tortillas into circles and shaped them around a cannoli ring to fry until crispy the day before. Then, stuffed them with my Spicy Buffalo Chicken Salad Recipe before everyone arrived for dinner. What? Cannoli are manly... remember the Godfather?
Tips for how to make a Buffalo Chicken Cannoli:
- Fry the tortillas in the morning or the day before and, once they have cooled completely, store them on a paper towel in an airtight container.
- If necessary, crisp up the tortillas in a warm oven before stuffing with chicken salad.
- The heat of the fryer will create little bubbles in the tortilla makes light, crispy pockets in the tortilla. Use a cannoli mold while frying to keep the center of the tortilla cannoli open and ready for filling. If you don't have a cannoli mold, just remember to hold the tortilla in shape with tongs while frying and push down any bubbles inside the cannoli while it is still hot.
- Stuff the cannoli with chicken salad from both ends and use the end of the spoon to push filling into the middle.
- Don't fill them too early, the moisture my soften the tortillas.
- If members of your team aren't blue cheese fans, leave the blue cheese out of the chicken mixture and serve as a garnish.
- I served this as an appetizer but, they would be nice for lunch paired with a salad.
- No carbs? No problem, serve the chicken salad wrapped in lettuce leaves.
- 20-8 inch flour tortillas
- 2½ cups cooked chicken, finely diced
- 1 large celery stalk, minced or fine dice
- ¼ cup hot wing sauce, more if desired (Frank's was used)
- ¼ cup mayonaise
- ¼ cup blue cheese crumbs, more for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the flour tortillas into 5 to 6 inch circles by cutting a 1 inch wide ring around the outside of the tortilla.
- Loosely wrap the tortilla around a cannoli shell and secure with a toothpick. Or, if you prefer, fold the tortilla around two of your fingers and secure with toothpick. Overlap the tortilla only as much as you need to secure it with a toothpick leaving a nice wide center to fill with chicken mixture.
- Use a frying pan or pot that is large enough to fill with 1 to 1½ inch oil to fry the tortillas. The pan should still have plenty of room so that the oil will not boil over.
- Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Place the tortillas in the hot oil with tongs one at a time. Leave the cannoli mold in the tortilla or use the tongs to keep the shape of a cannoli until the tortilla is cooked enough to hold its own shape then, continue with the next tortilla. Only fry up to 4 at a time.
- Fry the tortillas until golden brown and crispy, they will continue to brown a little when removed from the oil. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
- In a mixing bowl, toss together the diced chicken and diced celery.
- Combine the mayonnaise and hot wing sauce in a small bowl. Add more hot wing sauce slowly and taste as you go for the desired flavor. The sauce mixture should be hotter than you might expect because you will be adding it to the chicken and filling the tortilla with which will dilute the flavor of the sauce.
- Stir in the desired amount of blue cheese crumbles and save the remaining for garnish.
- Salt and pepper to taste. If you add the blue cheese to the mixture, you may not need salt so be sure to taste.
- Fill the cannoli shells with chicken from both ends with a small spoon. Use the end of the soon to push the filling into the middle of the cannoli, if necessary.
- Serve with hot wing sauce and blue cheese crumbles.
My family loved the twist on one of their game time favorites. I served them for dinner a couple of days ago to make sure my plan would work and plan to serve them again on game day.
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