J. Timothy's, Plainville

The nationally recognized "Dirt" wings at J. Timothy's in Plainville are fried, dipped in sauce, then fried and sauced again. (Nick Caito / Hartford Courant / February 5, 2014)

J. Timothy’s Taverne has long been known for its “dirt” wings. Fried, tossed in sauce, and then fried again, these unique poultry parts recently won acclaim as some of the best in America.

Although some restaurants use seasoned flours or sauces to make their wings look “dirty,” the source of J. Timothy’s naming is much more colloquial.

General Manager Greg Gardner, who has been with the restaurant for 32 years, remembers the story: There used to be a bar regular on J. Timothy’s softball team nicknamed “Dirt” for being the oldest member of the team. Dirt would order wings, but socialize with other patrons until the wings became cold and unappetizing. So he’d ask for them to be fried again.

“So they were sauced wings getting thrown back in the fryer, and he found they would be amazing when they came back,” Gardner says.

The “dirt” wings caught on with other regulars over the next four years, and in the early ’90s became a permanent part of the menu.

“The recipe of the sauce we use, in conjunction with some of the sugars in the sauce, crisps up the skin very well,” Gardner says.

The problem with “dirt” wings is that the extra sauce cakes up the frying oil. Serving an average of 2 tons of wings a week takes its toll, as the restaurant needs to change its oil daily, and each of its 10 deep fryers needs replacing after only a year and a half.

Some wings that are similar in style can be found at North Haven’s Hard Hat café (65 Old Broadway E., North Haven, 203-234-9857). For the past decade, its wings, nicknamed “Doobs,” have been fried, sauced and then grilled until dry and crispy.

J. Timothy’s Taverne | 143 New Britain Ave., Plainville | 860-747-6813 | jtimothys.com