Buffalo Chicken Wings
Seeing that “The Big Game” is this weekend, my mind turns naturally to those yummy snacks that a day like Super Bowl Sunday just screams out for. I’m a fan of pretty much every chicken wing I’ve ever eaten, but for a day this important you need the one, the only, the tried-and-true, the original buffalo wing as invented by those fine people at the Anchor Bar about, oh, five hundred years ago. This is not a day to fool around with tradition, but to perfect it.
I frequently make these chicken wings for my good friend Jen Sturz, a true hot wing connoisseur, who pronounces them equal to or better than the best wings found in her home city of Buffalo, New York. I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for several years, making minor nuanced adjustments from time to time, and with Jen’s blessing I think I’ve nailed it!
For me the perfect wing needs to be crisp, not rubbery or undercooked. The sauce should be spicy but balanced and MUST be made with Franks Red Hot. Any other hot sauce for this purpose is a pretender. The dip must be good blue cheese dressing, not too chunky and not, most definitely not bottled ranch. And celery sticks only please, no carrots need apply.
After many, many batches I’ve decided that to achieve the perfectly cooked wing a two-method approach is the best. First bake at a low heat to cook the wing through and to remove excess moisture from the skin. And then fry the wings to ‘crispify’ them to perfection. Then coat the wings in warm hot sauce until completely covered, being careful not to over-sauce them.
I’m making it sound more complicated than it really is. Follow the simple method I’ve outlined below and you’ll have perfect wings every time. I really recommend a small home fryer for this recipe, but if you choose to use oil in a pot, please take care not to overfill the pot with oil or to fry too much at once. Please use a good thermometer.
Makes 4 portions of 8 wings per person. Or 2 portions of 16 for brawnier eaters.
32 pre-cut organic or free-range chicken wings, 16 mini drumsticks and 16 “flat” second-joint pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup butter
½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
pinch garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch celery salt
pinch black pepper
Blue Cheese Dressing
½ cup mayo
½ cup blue cheese crumbles (I like Maytag blue for this, if you can find it.)
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cream
1 garlic clove, chopped
freshly cracked black pepper, to your taste
3 stalks celery, cut into 4-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a sheet pan with a wire rack. Toss raw chicken wings with spices and vegetable oil until uniformly covered. Place wings on rack on sheet pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, add all sauce ingredients into a medium pot or a small pan large enough to accommodate the wings in three or four batches. Place over a medium-low burner and melt butter. When the butter is completely melted whisk hot sauce and butter until smooth.
Make the blue cheese dressing by adding all ingredients into a blender. Blend until combined, mostly smooth with a few chunks. If the dressing is too thick add a bit of water to thin it out. If too thin add a bit more cheese.
Cut the celery into sticks and store in water in the refrigerator. Store in water up to one day.
Heat fryer to 375 degrees. Remove wings from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Heat sauce over low heat. Fry wings in three or four batches until nicely browned and very crisp, about five minutes. Drain for a couple minutes and drop in batches into the buttery hot sauce. Coat wings with sauce by tossing with a serving spoon or small pair of tongs. Remove wings to a platter. Put blue cheese dip in a small bowl. Drain celery from water and pat dry with paper towels. Put celery on the side. Serve wings immediately with ice-cold beer and a roll of paper towels!