Nostalgia is an important part of food. Possibly the most important part about food.
I have roots in mostly Northern European heritage, so why in the world would I be nostalgic about chicken wings?
Well, I’ll answer that in 3 letters. BWW.
While growing up in South Dakota, Buffalo Wild Wings was one of my first experiences of eating food that was spicy, savory, crispy and salty at the same time.
I was working a summer internship at a non-profit organization and my manager took me across the street for lunch at BWW. There were at least 2 dozen sauce options and I chose the 2nd spiciest….a complete departure from what you’d consider traditional “midwestern” home cooking.
It was intense, but I’ve never looked back in terms of exploring new foods or new ideas.
(Quinn you’re getting to deep man, get to the point….)
Wings are easy. Like really easy. This technique is something I read from one of my heroes, Danny Bowein, who learned from Anchor Bar in Buffalo (the mythological inventor of the Buffalo Wing).
Par-cooking the wing then freezing overnight traps the air bubbles in the skin. When you fry it the next day, you get ultra-crispy skin in 6-8 minutes in Canola oil at 375 F.
The finishing sauces, whether traditional Buffalo (an equal mix of Frank’s Red Hot and melted butter) or more experimental (which you should try!) are super quick to execute.
Personally, I like dry-rubs for wings. Mr. Bowein’s version is tingly-spicy with Szechuan peppercorns, but the recipe below is an adaptation that leans somewhere between Cajun seasoning and Nashville Hot Chicken seasoning.
The beauty of this technique is you can do anything your heart desires once you have these perfectly fried wings. Enjoy a couple basic ideas below….
For the Wings
- 2 lbs chicken wings — I prefer the flats, but my wife and a lot of my friends prefer the drummies, so I usually get equal amounts of both, probably around 20 wings total.
- 1 quart canola oil for frying
- 3 TBSP Frank’s Red Hot sauce (plus more to taste…I will throw in spicier stuff like Tapatio as well just for fun….cooking should be fun and fit to your tastes)
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter
Dry Rub Mix
- 1 TBSP Cayenne pepper (adjust based on your spice tolerance, and feel free to substitute other chile powders)
- 1 TBSP Garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp Cardamom powder (not optional)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp finely ground katsuobushi flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp dried herbs of your choice (thyme, oregano, parsley…..fuck it, just blend what you want this is your dish)
- Evaluate your life. Pour a glass of wine. Heat your oven to 375.
- Spread out the wings on a large baking sheet with a rack. Lightly season with salt, and bake for 15-20 minutes….looking for tan but not brown.
- Remove from oven and cool for a bit then throw entire pan, as-is, in the freezer overnight.
- Enjoy the rest of your evening. How’s that wine doing? How’s your life doing? I’m betting both are a lot better now.
- Wake up and brush your teeth. Take a walk. Hopefully it’s not raining.
- Turn on a replay of whatever sporting event you’d normally watch while eating wings
- Remove baking sheet of wings from freezer and let sit for about an hour at room temp
- For Buffalo Sauce: combine butter and Frank’s Red Hot in small sauce pan at low heat. That’s it. That’s the big secret of Buffalo Sauce. Stir occasionally and add more spicy elements if you desire.
- For Dry Rub: mix all of the spices together. That’s it. Adjust as you desire. The above ratios are pretty spicy so feel free to dial back on the cayenne or add sugar or other spices for a different profile. The above amounts will be more than you need most likely, so slowly toss with the finished wings and add to your tastes.
- For Wings: heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan like a dutch oven until it reaches 375 F or is shimmering but not smoking. There are a ton of thermapens on the market now to get that temp dialed in. I’ll typically overshoot 375 because adding cold wings to hot oil will reduce temp momentarily, it’s kind of a game of finding that average.
- Drop 6-7 wings in your vessel…they should be submerged and slightly spaced. Set timer for 6 minutes and stir occasionally with a spider or slotted spoon. Reduce heat if the oil starts to smoke.
- When the wings are floating and the skin is looking nicely browned, remove to a rimmed sheet or plate then repeat the process with another batch.
- For a given batch of wings, after a couple minutes of rest, toss with whatever sauce or dry spice mix you prefer in a medium mixing bowl and serve.