Hot wings are very likely the pinnacle of snack food, whether you’re watching the Super Bowl game, enjoying a cold beer at the local bar or just feeling hungry for a spicy snack. You’ll find hundreds of versions, baked, grilled, shallow fried, breaded, not breaded, but the people at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, where hot wings originated, will tell you that the only true hot wing is deep fried. The legend is that back in 1964, Teressa Bellisimo received a shipment of chicken wings by mistake and developed a method of serving them. “These are just too nice to toss in the stock pot,” she mused. And voila! The birth of Buffalo Chicken Wings. The Anchor Bar has been serving them ever since. Many claim they’re the best wings anywhere.
So what is it that makes you crave a big batch of these spicy morsels? Some would say it’s all in the sauce; true, but the quality and handling of the wings is also key. You want fresh, large, meaty wings, preferably from a poultry dealer. If you don’t have access to one, buy a top quality brand. Rinse them in cold water, pat dry and cut them at the two joints, discarding the wing tips or saving them for stock. Place them on a rack on a pan and refrigerate them overnight. Drying them out under refrigeration will make them much crispier, once deep fried. In a deep fryer or a 5 or 6 quart heavy pot with a thermometer, pour the oil. Heat the oil slowly to 365 degrees. Depending on their size, deep fry the dry wings from 6 to 10 minutes in small batches. Place on paper towels to drain off excess oil. Hold them in a warm oven as you go along. Be sure to return heat to 365 degrees between batches.
Toss the wings in just enough hot sauce to coat them. A “suicidal” version calls for 1 part Tabasco sauce to 4 parts of the hot sauce. Place in a large bowl and serve along with blue cheese sauce and celery sticks. Lots of napkins will be useful.
3 lbs chicken wings
Peanut oil for deep frying
1 stick sweet butter
1 bottle (12 oz.) Louisiana Hot Sauce*
1 T cider vinegar
1/8 t garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Blue Cheese Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 T finely grated red onion
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
4 celery ribs cut into thin sticks. Soak celery in a bowl of ice and cold water for at least a half hour and up to 1 hour.
*Franks Red Hot Sauce and Wingers Original are popular.
Photographer Bill Brady