Monday, November 28, 2005

How come nobody in this town can make decent chicken wings?

I'm from Western New York, so I'm a chicken wing snob. While every now and again you get some decent wings here in Northeast Ohio, most of them pale in comparison to even the most pedestrian versions found in Buffalo and its environs. So, as a public service to my fellow Clevelanders, I'm going to tell you how to make chicken wings the right way.

First, the chicken wings themselves. Under no circumstances should you use the crappy dessicated little sparrow wings that Giant Eagle sells at 5 lbs for $1.00. Those are reserved exclusively for $.10 wing nights at bars. Spring for some nice sized chicken wings. If they aren't as big as your index finger, throw 'em back.

Second, the preparation. Listen, you deep fry the little buggers in hot oil. Deal with it. These things are bad for you. They are little globules of cholesterol. If you don't want to fry them, for god's sake, don't bake 'em, grill 'em or roast 'em--just don't eat 'em.

Another fun thing about deep frying is that it is actually pretty dangerous, and it is made a little more dangerous by the piece of advice I'm about to give you: you shouldn't thaw the wings before you cook them (for some reason, they hold up a lot better if you don't). Cook them in a deep fryer with clean vegetable oil for 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees. If the skin isn't crispy, they aren't done --there's nothing worse than a slimy-skinned chicken wing. Be careful, though, if you're doing this at home. Your fryer will bubble like mad when you first put frozen chicken wings in it, so make sure you lower the fry basket into the fryer very slowly and don't overload it, or the hot oil will overflow and kill you and everyone you love.

Fourth, the sauce. Look, teriyaki sauce, barbeque sauce, garlic sauce and honey mustard sauce are all fine for chicken mcnuggets, but that's not what goes on wings. The only thing that goes on wings is Frank's Original Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce. This is what they use at the kabba of the chicken wing, Buffalo's own Anchor Bar. You can buy this stuff through the mail or at most grocery stores. The Anchor Bar slaps its name on some of the versions that are available locally here, but believe me, it's Frank's inside. Get the original though, not the stuff labeled "Buffalo Wing Sauce." That version is okay tasting, but it's got some artificial buttery stuff in it. You don't want to go there--instead, you want to grab one stick of butter and throw that in with a cup of the sauce and melt it. That should be enough for about 18 good sized wings, or two dozen of the dinky ones that I already told you not to buy.

If you want more heat, throw in some habanero sauce or tabasco sauce on top of the Frank's. The thing is, though, you want the heat from those other sauces, not the taste, so make sure to use them sparingly.

Once you've fried up your wings, pour the warmed up sauce and butter combination into a plastic container with a lid. Dry the wings on a paper towel for a second, and then dump them into the container and shake it. Don't let the wings sit in the container once you've got them all coated. Take them out and serve them.

Fifth, the accoutrements. Chicken wings are served with celery and blue cheese dressing, and that's all. You don't get carrots, and you don't get ranch dressing -- celery and blue cheese. Got it?

Sixth, mechanics. No forks, knives or spoons allowed. Before digging in, get about six inches worth of paper napkins and a plate for the carcasses. Then take a look at your wings. You'll note that there are two kinds, the little drumstick things and the little wingy things. It is perfectly acceptable to eat the drumstick like a chicken drumstick, in multiple bites. However, the only acceptable way to eat the little wingy thing is to grab it between two fingers at its base, place it in your mouth and pull it out slowly while scraping the meat off in a single bite. Dunking in blue cheese is optional, but encouraged.

Things you must never, ever do.

  • First, you must never, ever, under any circumstances bread your chicken wings. That's disgusting. If you want fried chicken with batter on it, go to KFC or Church's. Chicken wings are a low carb food.
  • Second, only a jackass would put cajun seasoning or red pepper flakes on chicken wings. Don't be a jackass.
  • Third, do not pour the blue cheese dressing on your wings. This is not a salad, people, it's chicken wings.
  • Finally, you do not drink milk, mineral water or pinot noir with chicken wings. You drink beer. If you want to be authentic, drink either Genny Cream Ale, Labatt's Blue, or Old Vienna Lager.

There you have it. Enjoy, and try not to burn yourself. If you find yourself in Buffalo, make sure to stop in at the Anchor Bar and taste the original. (Gabriel's Gate, on Allen Street in Buffalo, is also reputed to give the Anchor Bar a run for its money.)

No comments: