We've spent the last few weeks critiquing buffalo wings made by various cooks in and around the greater NY area. I kind of feel like a New York sports/talk radio guy, like Chris "Mad Dog" Russo. You know, those irritating guys that flap their gums all morning about football when they've never touched an actual football in their lives.
It's kind of the same for me. I had never actually cooked a chicken wing before (even though I got a deep fryer for my wedding over 2 years ago that's still in the box), yet I've been giving my 2¢ about how professionals are doing their job. I don't necessarily think you need to be a good cook to be a good eater, but it can't hurt. And since I'm not totally lost in the kitchen I figured I'd try my hand at cooking my own wings.
Being that this was my first attempt, I decided to play it simple. I'd go with the classic wing sauce mix (equal parts Frank's Red Hot + butter) as well as BBQ (store bought). I figured it was more important to focus on the chicken. Besides, if this hot sauce mixture is good enough for Anchor Bar in Buffalo then it's certainly good enough for me. As for cooking method, this was the perfect opportunity to christen my deep fryer...but of course I didn't do it. Instead, I opted for the dual cooking method of baking then grilling. My goal was to get nice moist meat with crispy, even charred, skin - a la Mike's Place.
I started by brushing the wings with a light coat of vegetable oil and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. I put them on a baking sheet and threw them in the oven at 350 until they started to get a nice golden brown color. In the meantime, I was making the hot wing sauce in a frying pan on the range. First I melted the butter, then added the Frank's sauce until I was happy with the color (I think I use color as a measuring stick way more than time or other actual measurements). I took the wings out of the oven and brushed on a thin coat of the sauce, which I was hoping would burn just a little, then tossed them on the grill. When I was happy with the look, I took them off and tossed half of them in hot sauce and the other half in BBQ sauce. Then, time to chow down.
First, the important part, the meat. I was half successful in my goal. I got the meat perfectly moist and tender, but I wasn't happy with the skin. I really wanted more crisp, but it wasn't there. The sauce was tasty but basic. I do wish it was a little thicker though, it ran off the wings a little. The BBQ was what it was. Just a store bought brand so not much to report. I think I'd give myself a C+. They were flavorful, tender wings but had plenty of room for improvement. And I do plan to give it another go...I already bought the wings. This time I think I'm going to try a more complex buffalo sauce. For the second option, I'm going to ditch the BBQ and go for a Thai Peanut sauce - I think that could catch on! Also, I have to finally take that deep fryer out of the box and do this right.
So, does anyone else have a recipe for buffalo wings that I can try out? I know the other guys are into trying some recipes themselves and it could be fun to expand this blog into a place to get/give/trade recipes for wings and sauces. I know Steve's dad has a kick-ass wing recipe. He made them for Steve's surprise 30th Bday party, and they were good. REALLY good. Let's see if we can get him to give us a tutorial.