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Want to know how to make real deep-fried chicken wings like the ones they make in Buffalo? I can teach you! Just be prepared to cook the crap out of those suckers – that’s the secret.
I’m a vegetarian. Let’s get that out of the way right now, so that there’s no confusion. I’ve never eaten a chicken wing. And yet, I’ve been told by some of the most die-hard Western New York wing fans that I make the best wings they’ve ever had! Maybe it’s in my blood. Maybe it was breathing the cold Buffalo air for the first 23 years of my life. Or maybe it was an intense desire to not have to bring 100 wings back home to NYC for my husband every time I visited my mom. I learned how to make them instead, and I learned well.
The four keys to making wings
The first key to making authentic Buffalo Chicken Wings is to not call them Buffalo Chicken Wings. Not even Chicken Wings. They’re just WINGS. If you want to call something Buffalo Chicken Pizza or Buffalo Shrimp that’s fine, because at this point, “Buffalo” sauce is a thing that you put on things other than chicken wings. But the wings, they’re wings. This is the default way to prepare them, so you only need to modify the term “wings” if you’re doing something else, like putting BBQ sauce on them (something my daughter prefers, much to the dismay of her father).
The second key is understanding that a lot of people from Buffalo will fight to the death about whether the best wings are from the Anchor Bar (the place that invented them), or Duff’s (the place that, according to my own husband, perfected them.) You do not want to get into the middle of that fight, especially if you’re using a deep fryer. Tell them to take it outside.
The third key is understanding that they have to be fried until you’re sure you’ve fried them for too long. My sister Una taught me this, and it’s why my wings are really really good. Rumor has it that she’s been known to actually go into restaurant kitchens and make sure they’re making them right. I’ve never seen her do it, but I totally believe that it’s happened.
The fourth key is to serve the wings with celery and blue cheese dressing. It’s the law. Personally, I also put carrot sticks out, but that’s really just because I like carrots dipped in blue cheese dressing a lot. Putting carrots out is not a Buffalo thing and would probably be frowned upon by some people.
There are a few terms you should know regarding wings. There are two different parts of the wing: “drums” (which look like little drumsticks and are sometimes called “drumettes,” which is dumb), and “flats.” I’m lazy, so I get my wings already cut into drums and flats, but buying them whole is a lot cheaper. If you do that you’ll have to separate each one at the joint where the drum meets the flat.
Another term is “naked,” which is what the drums and flats are called after they’ve been fried but before they’ve been tossed in the sauce.
The entire process can be done as one big project, or split into two. I’ll be making about eighty wings (for FIVE people!) on Sunday for the “big game” (I don’t want to get sued by calling it the Super Bo- dammit, almost did it!), so I’m going to bake them up on Saturday and fry them on Sunday. Baking? What? Yes, I bake the wings first to dry them out more. I’ve tried it both ways and everyone agreed that the wings were crispier when they were baked first, so don’t skip that part!
There are roughly 7-9 wings per pound, uncooked. A good guide for normal people is 8-10 wings each.
You want to fry them as close to when you’re going to serve them as possible, because the longer they sit around, the less crispy they will be. For something like the “big game” where it’s a four-hour food fest and nobody is sitting down at any particular time to eat, I just sauce them in batches as they come out of the fryer and serve them immediately.
Figuring out how to cook them was easy. The sauce was a bit harder. I looked at every recipe online that used Frank’s Red Hot, because if they weren’t using Frank’s Red Hot then they just weren’t worth considering. After many tries with many willing mouths, I hit on the sauce recipe I’ve been using for years now. I know that Frank’s makes an actual wing sauce, but we’ve never tried it. I should probably get it at some point just to compare.
You need an electric deep fryer. I mean, I know people fry in big pots on the stove, but the one and only time I did that I was terrified the entire time. So I will stick to an electric fryer, and I suggest you do as well. The one that I have has been discontinued, but this Cuisinart model is listed in its place. It looks exactly the same as mine except the controls are not digital. I actually would have preferred the analog controls!
You also need some kind of baking sheet to bake the wings on before they get fried. You can bake the wings right on the cookie sheet (or better yet, on parchment paper so that they don’t stick), but if you have a metal rack that fits onto the baking sheet you can skip the step of patting the wings down with paper towels. This is also how I cook bacon!
Tongs are also helpful, both for taking the wings out of the fryer and getting them out of the sauce.
Good luck to whichever team you want to win—yay sportsball!—and may your wings be hot and crispy.How to make real chicken wings like they serve in Buffalo! #chickenwings #buffalowings Click To Tweet
Buffalo Chicken Wings
This is how they make 'em in Buffalo!
- 3 lbs chicken wings, thawed
- salt & pepper for seasoning the wings
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 6 oz Frank's Red Hot
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco
- 1/8 tsp salt
Pre-baking the wings
Preheat your oven to 350° F and place a wire rack on a large baking sheet (if you don't have a wire rack that can go in the oven, line the baking sheet with parchment paper)
Place wings in a single layer, skin side up, on prepared baking sheet and season with salt and pepper
Bake the wings for 20 minutes, then remove them from the oven and pat the wings on both sides with paper towels, transferring to a clean plate; if you used a wire rack you can skip this step and leave the wings on the rack, but flip them over to keep them from sticking
Lower oven to 200° F
While wings are baking, heat the oil in your fryer to 375 degrees
Frying the wings
Fry the wings in batches, 10 minutes for flats and small drums, 12 minutes for larger drums; use caution when lowering basket into oil, as the oil may splatter (I hold the fryer's lid over the basket as I'm lowering it down)
Drain fried wings well and remove to a paper towel-lined plate; once excess oil has drained off, put the naked wings on a clean baking sheet and keep warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to sauce
While the wings are frying, mix the rest of the ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl
Saucing the wings
When you're ready to sauce the wings, place the bowl of sauce in the microwave, covered with plastic wrap (leave an inch uncovered so that it won't explode!), and heat in 30-second increments until the sauce is hot
Soak the wings in the sauce for a few minutes, turning occasionally, then move to a warmed serving plate or bowl; work in batches if they won't all fit into the bowl at once
Serve immediately, with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing
If you'd like to do some of the work ahead of time, you can bake the wings a day or two before you're going to fry them. Just add 3 minutes onto the frying time, since the wings will be starting cold.