My wife has some pretty severe food allergies, and they’re to some things that are present in almost all restaurant foods. Before she was diagnosed, we used to go out to eat quite a bit, and one of our favorite local eateries was a place that specialized in wings. This place is a Mecca for wing lovers, with daily specials and at least 25 different sauces to choose from, including the standard “Buffalo” sauce in mild, medium, hot, and “burn your guts out” hot. It’s been almost a year since the diagnosis, and we’re slowly learning to cook more at home, trying to replicate the “takeout” quality of Chinese food, hoagies, and the like. Often it’s a process of trial and error – this week, we tried wings, and met with immediate success. Here’s how we make restaurant-style wings at home – it’s easier than you think.
If you have a deep-fryer, like a fry-daddy or even an electric fondue pot, feel free to use them. They make more efficient use of a given volume of oil, and tend to be a little cleaner. We deep-fry the old fashioned way, by filling up our cast-iron skillet with oil and plopping it onto the stove-top. Really, any pan will do, and how you proceed is up to you, but if you do decide to go the stove-top method, I recommend that you pick up an appropriate-sized splatter-guard before you make your first batch of wings.
As for the wings themselves, you’ll want to get wings without any sauce on them. You can purchase them in the fresh meat section of your grocery store, or sometimes you can find bags of precut frozen wings in the freezer section. If you buy fresh, you’ll need to cut the wings into sections. A pair of poultry shears makes short work of the wings, cutting through meat, skin, and bone with ease, but you can use a regular kitchen knife, too. Wiggle the knife around a little until you find the joint, and then use some brute force to chop on through. Most people throw the wing-tips away, as they have little valuable meat. I like to prepare them with the rest of the wings and eat what I can – it’s really up to you.
Once your wings are ready, you’ll want to prepare your sauces. A simple classic buffalo sauce consists mainly of hot sauce, butter, and vinegar. Use your favorite hot sauce (I like Louisiana Brand) and start with equal parts butter and hot sauce with a healthy splash of vinegar. Add more hot sauce to taste. I found this simple recipe to be a little bare, and I like to throw in some honey or soy sauce to round out the taste a little.
You can use almost any prepared sauce available in the store, from salad dressings to marinades. We had good luck with a jarred teriyaki sauce last week. Let your imagination run wild – nothing is too crazy to try once. Our favorite sauce consists of honey, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices, and it is simply awesome. Once your sauces are ready and standing by, it’s time to get cooking.
Start by filling your frying pan or fryer up with oil. Use regular vegetable oil, and make sure that you use enough oil to completely submerge your wings – this is deep-frying at its best. Heat the oil to 350 degrees and keep it there. Overheating the oil is extremely dangerous and can cause fires. Use any kitchen thermometer to monitor your oil throughout your cooking.
When the oil is hot, toss in your wings, moving them every so often to keep them from sticking to your pan. Let them fry for about eight minutes, and drain them briefly on a plate covered in paper towels.
Once the wings have drained, toss them in your sauce immediately, while they’re still hot. I suggest tossing them in a bowl of sauce, using tongs to ensure that they are coated evenly, and move them to a basket or bowl for serving.
Wings are traditionally served with a side of blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping, and celery and carrot sticks to help a little with the bite of spicy wings. We’ve found that wings take little more preparation or time to prepare than any other meal, and they make a great treat on the weekend. Whether you’re forced to make them yourselves due to restrictions, like us, or you just want to make an American icon in your own home, Buffalo wings make a great meal.