Buffalo wings, as first envisioned by their inventors at the Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, NY, bear little resemblance to the versions that we have been seeing locally in Portland. Since their invention in 1964, the term “Buffalo” has been expanded to include not just wings, but any dish which combines the flavors of wing sauce and blue cheese, such as chicken fingers, shrimp, and, somewhat unfortunately, pizza. Authentic Buffalo wings aren’t served whole, or boneless, or covered in barbecue sauce, or with ranch dressing; they’re not baked, and for goodness’ sake, they’re not breaded. We think the classic version of the dish is best, with deep-fried chicken wing segments tossed in a spicy sauce, served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. Luckily, the classic version is also the simplest to make.
We like to use chicken wings that are a little on the small side. This seems counter-intuitive, but you end up with a much nicer crispy-skin-to-meat ratio. Don’t be afraid to use those big bags of frozen “party wings.” They’re cheap, they’re appropriately scrawny, and you won’t have to split them at the joints. You WILL, however, need to thaw them and bring them to room temperature before frying.
Why? Because getting your wings close to room temperature and patting them very dry is absolutely critical to achieving wing perfection. Before frying, pat the wings with a few paper towels. Then, pat ‘em again. You want the skin as dry as possible before frying. Fry in a deep fryer at 350 in small batches, being careful not to overwhelm the fryer. Don’t have a deep fryer? You can still fry them a few at a time in a small saucepan.
Finally, use peanut oil for frying. It’s more expensive, sure, but it tastes much better. It also can be filtered and re-used more often, for your future frying projects.
Traditional Buffalo Wings
- 1.5 lbs chicken wing segments (about 15 pieces)
- Peanut oil (for frying)
- 1/2 12 ounce bottle “Franks Red Hot Original Hot Sauce”
- 1/2 stick butter
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Celery, split and cut into 3 inch lengths
- Blue Cheese Dip (recipe follows)
In deep fryer or in small saucepan, preheat heat oil to 350 degrees. Dry chicken wings on paper towels, on a plate. Bring chicken wings to room temperature, and pat dry with more paper towels. The goal here is to get the wings as dry as possible.
Put wings in basket, and drop into hot oil. Fry, covered, at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown.
While wings are in fryer, combine hot sauce, butter, and cayenne pepper in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and whisk until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
When wings are golden brown, remove from fryer.
Drain first batch on paper towels, while you fry the second batch.
When all wings are done cooking and have been drained, add to large bowl. Add Buffalo wing sauce, and toss to combine and coat wings evenly.
Serve with cut celery, blue cheese dip, and a crisp beer. Feed the bones to the dog.
Blue Cheese Dip
Makes about 3/4 cup
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in small bowl, and chill for at least 20 minutes before serving.