Don’t want to hear the backstory? Jump straight to the recipe.
I have always been a chicken wing lover. During college, we had a weekly “wing night” tradition where a group of us all went to a local bar on Mondays for discounted chicken wings and beers. Since then (it’s been long time) I’ve started making them myself. I’ve gone through all sorts of variations and read hundreds of recipes and watched dozens of YouTube videos on the topic.
When I found The Great Chicken Wing Hunt I immediately became obsessed. This is a ridiculous documentary where an American expat takes all of his Eastern European friends to upstate New York to find the greatest chicken wings in the world. They end up eating almost 300 different types of wings in the process, but the winner that they chose was a point of debate.
A restaurant called Abigail’s in Waterloo, New York ended up taking the top spot. Their secret sauce “Bayou Bleu” was the center of controversy in the film. It had bleu cheese and celery mixed into the sauce, something that Head Chef Marshall Grady invented when he missed a football play on TV because he was distracted by dipping his wing into the bleu cheese dressing. After proving that he could make the wing sauce spicy enough for the judges, Marshall Grady took the top spot in the competition – a rubber chicken painted gold.
Abigail’s used to sell bottled Bayou Bleu sauce which I was excited to try after seeing the documentary. Unfortunately, Abigail’s closed in 2018. I was worried that I would never taste this sauce that took the title of greatest chicken wings in the world.
So, I set on a crazy mission of taking the documentary frame-by-frame. I consulted with professional chefs. After some experimentation, I have come up with a delicious sauce that I believe tastes similar to the original.
Luckily, the film has a quick interview with Marshall during the making of the sauce. He never gives a recipe, but we can easily see the ingredients.
In the screenshots above, you can clearly see that he is using Sriracha sauce, bottled bleu cheese dresssing, Frank’s Red Hot, and a spice that took me a long time to find. At the side of the cutting board, you can also see the tops of two fresh peppers that he has added to the bowl earlier.
I was having a lot of trouble identifying the spice on the counter. I turned to reddit’s professional chef community and posted a the screenshot to see if anyone recognized the brand from this zoomed in version that I enhanced as much as I could.
reddit amazes me sometimes. Within minutes a chef said that the bottle was definitely from the R.L. Schreiber line of spice mixes. I did some more digging on their line of spices and saw that the top label shows the name of the spice, with a small ingredient list below it. I looked through their entire catalog to match the spice. The only one that matches with a short centered title and single line ingredient list like we see on Marshall’s counter is Garlic Salt (right).
One other clue on proportions and another “secret” ingredient came from a scene that shows Marshall carefully mixing his sauce.
Here, you can see the sauce is mostly Frank’s Red Hot with a healthy mix of Bleu Cheese Dressing on top. He dices celery, fresh peppers (what I believe are jalepenos), and then adds a final ingredient that isn’t shown in the other scene with the ingredients on the table. It is a dark red shiny sauce that almost looks like ketchup. However, the rectangular container is unmistakable. Living in the Korean suburbs of Washington, I immediately recognized it as Korean gochujang – a fermented chili and soybean paste that is the backbone of a lot of Korean dishes.
One ingredient that appeared to be missing was butter. The documentary judges said that the sauce must be made of chili pepper hot sauce and butter, but I didn’t see it anywhere in Marshall’s preparation. During my trials of the sauce, I tried making it with and without butter and actually preferred it without. I think that the bleu cheese dressing provides plenty of fat for this sauce.
Now that I had all of my ingredients, it was time to test proportions. This is actually a really versatile sauce. You can change the proportions as needed to suit your tastes based on how much you like spice, bleu cheese, or celery. Below is the recipe that I use, but feel free to modify it as you see fit.
- One cup of Frank’s Red Hot
- 1/2 cup of prepared Bleu Cheese Dressing
- Two stalks of celery, diced
- 3 Tablespoons of Sriracha
- 2 Tablespoons of Korean Gochujang
- 1 Tablespoon of dried Garlic Powder (or three cloves fresh garlic)
- 1 small pepper of your choice (based on heat preference), diced
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust ingredients to taste. Store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to two weeks.