I’ll be honest – I never really fancied myself the Buffalo wing type. (Capitalized because they are named for the city, not the animal.) Buffalo wings are hot wings, and I’ve never much been into hot (sun or spice) – I can’t relate to those people who buy hot sauce by the jug and glug it on their toast.
Further, it’s never been the sort of thing I aspired to make at home. Wings are pub food – something you order by the basket and eat in a loud booth with beer (cider for me) and plenty of people and napkins. I always went for the sticky, sugary ones, being a wuss and all, but I’ve recently come to love Buffalo wings on the milder side, and learned why – because that classic Buffalo wing sauce you get at the pub is Frank’s Red Hot Sauce cut with… butter.
It’s kind of my job to keep tabs on what people are into eating, and with hockey back (game on!) and Superbowl this weekend, there has been a lot of talk about wings. $65,000 worth of them were stolen (it made the RidicuList) and everyone is panicking about the price of them going up and having to suffer through Superbowl Sunday with lesser snacks (I didn’t notice a difference).
Of course what makes pub wings so fantastic (besides the beer and friends) is the fact that they’re deep-fried. I’ve only made oven roasted chicken wings before, and there’s nothing wrong with that method – just pat them dry, drizzle with oil and roast like you would roast a chicken, only for a significantly shorter time. (If you have a metal cooling rack, place it on your baking sheet to roast them, and the heat will have a chance to circulate around the wings. If not, no biggie.)
I decided to take a stab at the Real Thing. To fry your wings (note: most fresh wings come separated at the joint, so you’ll get some flat pieces, and some that look like mini drumsticks), pat them dry and shake in a bag or bowl of flour seasoned with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Let them sit for a short while, just to take the edge off the cold of the fridge. If you want to re-flour them, do. Then get a couple inches of canola or other mild vegetable oil nice and hot in a medium pot (you can do them in batches – they don’t need to cook all at once) – you can tell it’s ready to go by putting a scrap of bread in the oil – if it bubbles instantly, it’s good to go.
Cook the wings in batches, without crowding the pot, for about 5 minutes, until golden and crisp. Set them aside on paper towels. That’s it. W ate the little drumsticks plain, and I showered some with salt and pepper to make S&P wings.
The sauce: equal parts Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and melted butter. If you like, add a small squirt of lemon juice. That’s it. Pour the sauce over the freshly cooked wings (or dunk them) and they’re done.
You could serve them with bottled ranch or blue cheese dressing of course, which would certainly be authentic. But I had neither, and in keeping with my mission to use what I have, I added a splash of cream to a package of Boursin to make it the consistency of ranch. (I think it was herb & garlic, but peppercorn would be pretty fantastic.) The creamy dip is such an essential part of the hot wing experience that it really shouldn’t be a bottled afterthought. It took less than a minute to whisk together something really great. Besides, you’ll already have a stack of napkins at the ready.
Pub-style Buffalo Wings
2-3 lbs. chicken wings
1/4-1/2 cup butter
1/4-1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (optional)
canola oil, for cooking (optional)
salt and pepper
If you’re oven roasting your wings, preheat the oven to 425F. Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towel and lay out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet – or set a wire rack on the sheet and spread the wings out on it. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
If you want to fry them, pat them dry, then season the flour with salt and pepper and place in a plastic bag; add the wings in batches and shake to coat. Heat a couple inches of oil in a heavy saucepan until hot, but not smoking. Cook the wings in batches, without crowding the pot, until golden and crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter with the hot sauce and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking until smooth. Toss cooked wings with sauce and if you like, return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm, with extra sauce. Serves lots.