Thursday, February 1, 2007

Authentic Buffalo Wings

I know I've talked about these wings before, when I posted the guacamole recipe. My family was not television-friendly during my childhood (they're still not, really) but we did have an old-timey TV that was kept in the basement 364 days out of the year. The one exceptional day? Superbowl Sunday. We weren't even big sports fans, except for my father, and I don't think that my parents do this for the superbowl anymore -- my dad certainly watches, but I can't imagine them making guacamole and wings and nachos and all that delicious, high-calorie football food now that my brother and I aren't living there. I also think that we were so into it because it was our team, the Buffalo Bills, that were in the superbowl for three years straight. So it was pretty important to watch.
This year, my team is in the game, and we can't decide if we should go to the tailgating party (they're opening the parking lot at Soldier Field even though the game is in Miami, just for the tailgaters) or if we should just do our usual pigs at the trough routine at home. I imagine we'll do the later, but I think we'll try to keep it to a slight minimum this time -- a few less wings, a little bit less guac, and we should be able to emerge relatively unscathed, artery-wise. I just wish we had the red and white checkered picnic cloth that we used when I was young. I love traditions and when that cloth came out? It meant that it was football time.
Since I grew up only an hour away from Buffalo, NY -- the home of the chicken wing -- I'm a wing lover. The best wings in the world can actually be found in Niagara Falls, in my opinion, at a little pizza joint called Buzzy's. Their mascot is a pelican; I have no idea why. Their wings are spicy, juicy, and extremely delicious, but be warned: Suicide sauce is very hot -No Refunds or Exchanges. I think we always got the medium and those practically burn your lips off. I remember my father buying wings on his way home from work -- he commuted to Buffalo every day for a long time when I was in high school -- and bringing them all the way back for me. It's a long ride, and they were probably cold when they finally got home, but I didn't care. It was Buzzy's, and they were so, so, so good. I want some right now.
You can re-create the original chicken wing recipe, which is unfortunately not the recipe that is used at Buzzy's, but was the original sauce on the first chicken wings ever created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. You can also buy their new sauce -- I found it here in a Jewel/Osco market, halfway across the country from the actual Anchor Bar itself -- but it's kind of bland and really doesn't compare to the original recipe, which is made with Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce. That's right -- Frank's. You can find it anywhere and it make the best chicken wings you'll ever taste (unless you go to Buzzy's) right in your kitchen.
According to the legend, wings were traditionally a part of the chicken that was saved for making chicken stock and not considered edible fare. The kitchen owner's wife at the Anchor Bar, however, decided one night to fry them in oil and flavor them with a "secret sauce." I can only imagine what it was like to eat one of those first wings. They were probably pretty greasy, really spicy, and freaking awesome. I don't deep fry the wings -- too fatty and difficult to manage in my kitchen -- but they still taste delicious. I got the recipe from my father, who uses a frying pan with a lid instead of a tupperware container to coat the wings with the sauce, but I find it easier to just do it with a sealed container. All of our frying pans are cast iron and that makes them too heavy for me to shake around. So: how to make authentic buffalo wings.

Authentic Buffalo Wings
The grossest and hardest part -- the one I make him do because I'm too squeamish -- is first. Start with 2-1/2 pounds of chicken wings (it's a big recipe because it's intended to feed a huge group of people) and split them in half, at the joints, using a good knife. Once you get the hang of it, he tells me, it's not very difficult to find the joint and cut it properly. Also cut off the wing tip and discard. See the picture up there? The wing tip is that piece on the far left, there, and the wings are those two meaty looking chunks on the right. Yum.
Arrange them on an oven-safe baking rack and place a cookie sheet that has been wrapped in aluminum foil underneath the rack. Bake in a 425º oven for 45 minutes, turning the wings over halfway. The skin will be golden and crispy at the end, and the meat should be falling off the bone a little bit.
Now, mix together 1/2 a cup of Frank's Redhot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce with 1/3 cup of melted butter. Pour half of this mixture in a large tupperware container -- big enough to fit about half the wings -- and add the wings to the tupperware. Close and shake vigorously. Repeat with the resf of the sauce and the remaining wings.
Serve with blue cheese sauce and a lot of celery. It helps cool down your mouth while you chow down and makes it seem like you're being healthy. Hahahahah! Healthy on Superbowl Sunday? Health is for the weekdays, not for game day.
Here's hoping the Bears win. If enough people eat these wings, they certainly will -- I'm pleased to report that only on days when we did not make chicken wings did the Bears lose -- all season. So the wings make them win. Especially if you eat them on a red and white checkered picnic blanket.
Go Wings!
I mean, Go Bears!

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