Millions of Americans will gather around TVs this Sunday for the Super Bowl. While they watch, they’ll put away tons of burgers, hot dogs, chips, dip and salsa, pizza and Buffalo wings. Especially Buffalo wings.
This spicy appetizer burst on the scene almost 50 years ago. According to about.com, legend has the dish’s origins going back to 1964 when Teressa Bellissimo, owner of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., supposedly turned out the first batch of fried chicken wings bathed in hot sauce.
I’m not that concerned about who invented Buffalo wings, which also are called hot wings. I’m just grateful to have them. They’re a great way to wake up your taste buds before your main entrée arrives.
Hot wings should be just hot enough to enjoy, not suffer through. They don’t have to be some tongue-dissolving experience that leaves you unable to speak.
Some good regional restaurant chains that serve a great hot wing include Loco’s and Zaxby’s. Oh, there’s a reason Zaxby’s calls their hottest wings “insane.” You have to be mentally ill or have a mouth made from asbestos to eat them. There are hotter wings out there, but I’m not looking for them.
Buffalo bites are becoming a popular, healthier substitute for real hot wings, and though I like some varieties, they simply can’t replace real hot wings. For those who do like Buffalo bites, a simple recipe starts with a crock pot.
Put a dash of cooking oil in the bottom of the pot. Wash off and dry, then slice up three boneless chicken breasts. Dust thoroughly with Cajun seasoning salt and place in the pot. Add several small dashes of liquid smoke then add several large dashes of hot-wings sauce. Cook on low for about six hours.
When I cook real hot wings, I try to get them as close as possible to the best Buffalo wings I’ve found. Smok’n Pig BBQ in Valdosta has some of the best barbecue in the Peach State, and it has what I think are the best Buffalo wings anywhere. As soon as you bite into one, you realize they smoke their wings first and then fry them.
When attempting to replicate their recipe, I first had to figure out how long to smoke the wings. I’ll smoke a dozen or more wings after I’ve finished grilling something else. I begin by washing off and drying my wings, then dusting them with Cajun seasoning salt. I place them on the upper rack of my grill and close the lid for 45 minutes, rolling the wings at least once.
I then fry them in about 1 ½ inches of cooking oil, preferably peanut oil. If you’re allergic to peanuts, use canola oil. The oil temperature should be about 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, the best way I’ve found to know when the oil is ready is to allow a single drop of water to fall into it. If it only sizzles, it’s not ready. If it pops a little, it’s ready. If it explodes, you’ve probably got it too hot.
Fry the wings until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oil and allow them to drain a little in a pan layered with paper towels. Transfer the wings to a bowl with melted butter and add your favorite hot-wing sauce. Toss the wings around in the butter and sauce. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing.