I love buffalo wings. There’s no two ways about it. Yeah, I don’t mind the buffalo tenders and the buffalo chicken salads and sandwiches, but it’s the wings I really love. I’ve tried wings all across the great nation, every where I go, in search of the perfect wing. And I’ve come close to perfection. Drover’s Inn in Wellsburg, West Virginia, makes the best wings by far, so good that I once had a friend passing through the area pack a few orders in a cooler for the 11 hour drive back east. But how do I bring the perfect wings home without driving across country?
In my mind, there are two different elements to doing buffalo wings right: the method and the sauce. Some wing recipes have you bake them, which leaves them with soggy and mushy skin. Some recipes grill the wings, which can be okay, but can result in dry, over-cooked chicken and burnt skin. Deep-frying seems best, but you have to avoid turning them into greasy cholesterol missiles aimed straight at your aorta.
3 pounds chicken wings, cut into section, tips removed
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp table salt
3 Tbsp cornstarch
12 oz. Frank’s Red Hot Louisiana hot sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 stick butter
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 2-1/2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven to a temperature of 360 degrees over medium-high heat. Mix cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Dry chicken with paper towels and place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch mixture over it. Mix together with a spatula until the wings are well coated. Fry half of wings until they are golden, brown, and delicious, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer wings to the baking sheet using a slotted spoon or tongs and put them in the oven to keep warm. Repeat for remaining wings.
Put the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the other ingredients and simmer for several minutes to bring all the flavors together. Take off the heat and let cool a bit but don’t let it congeal.
When the wings are cooked and drained, toss in a large bowl with your sauce and serve with blue cheese dressing and carrot and celery sticks.
The cornstarch coating provides a crisp and chewy exterior and keeps the peppers in close contact with the chicken during cooking, providing spicy flavors even before you add the sauce. And the cornstarch gives something for the sauce to grab onto so that it doesn’t just run off onto your plate.
Step one of my perfect wing plan is complete. Now on to step two… Oh, and the recipe for those “perfect” Drover’s hot wings? I asked about it once and the owner offered to sell it to me … for $80,000. If only I had that much to spend.
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