It's amazing the way that memory and food are connected. I remember the very first time I had chicken wings, it was around 1977. At that time their popularity was still growing and were the the talk of the town in Buffalo. While my grandmother was baby-sitting me and my brothers, she ordered take-out wings. I remember that they were "medium." Believe it or not I can still remember the initial sensation of tasting that wing. I even remember exactly where I was standing in my Grandma's apartment! (the thought of it is making my mouth water now!). The hot, savory spiciness of that wing was by far the strongest flavor that had touched my seven year old mouth. Within seconds I was breathing heavily, sticking out my tongue, and asking for water, only to eat another wing just minutes later. I can remember my brothers and me repeating this process, and running around pouring water on our burning tongues until the box of wings was nothing but bones. That same year the city of Buffalo declared July 29, 1977 the first official Chicken Wing Day.
Growing up we had "wings" often and when my brothers and I became old enough we all worked in restaurants where we cooked them nightly. We experimented with different ingredients and made our own versions of "suicidal" wing sauce, something you ask for in a Buffalo restaurant if you want to dare the cook to cause you possible permanent intestinal damage. At one point we all became such wing snobs that we wouldn't just go to a specific restaurant for wings, but we would go when we knew a certain cook would be on wing duty!
There aren't actually any gluten-containing ingredients in Buffalo wings, or wing sauce. The problem with ordering wings at a restaurant is that the deep-fryer being used for the wings is almost certainly being used for numerous breaded fried foods (chicken-fingers, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, etc...) as well, making cross-contamination to gluten almost certain. So now if I want to have chicken wings I have to find a clean deep fryer. Luckily my brother Scott has one, but he lives in a different city than I do, which means I don't get to have wings very often. So this past weekend when I stayed at Scott's house for the night I told him that I couldn't remember the last time I had wings, and since I have to leave in the morning why don't we have wings for breakfast? Being the gracious host, and wing-lover that he is, he immediately consented. The wings were great, but we opted for just plain hot, not our normal suicidal version, after all it was breakfast!
A few things about real Buffalo wings; they are always deep-fried in oil until crispy, never (ever!) baked. The ingredients may vary a bit but the main ingredients are Frank's Red Hot sauce (original), and butter, and never (ever) are they breaded. The wings should be served with celery, and/or carrots. The other component of this meal is blue cheese dressing, which for the most part is NOT gluten-free. UPDATE, July, 2014: Now many blue cheese dressings are gluten free, make sure you check the label and call the company if you are unsure.
One more thing, I normally try to cook (and post) recipes that not only taste great but that are also good for you, this one hardly qualifies as healthy, but we've all got to indulge ourselves sometimes, and If I had a list of favorite food indulgences, this would make my top five!
Real Buffalo Chicken Wings
serves 2 or 3
This recipe makes medium wings, to make them mild or hot adjust the ratio of butter to hot sauce.
Needed: Gluten-free deep fryer with vegetable oil. I suggest cooking these outside for reasons of safety, cleanliness, and so your house won't smell like oil for five to seven days!
@ 20 chicken wings (actually half of a wing, with the tip discarded)
3/4 cup Frank's red hot sauce-original
1/4 cup butter
Optional ingredients *to make them hotter*
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
• Fill you deep fryer with enough oil to cover all of the wings, but leave enough room so it won't boil-over
(if your deep fryer isn't large enough make two batches with half of the wings)
• Heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees, if you don't have temperature gauge, heat to medium-high.
• Combine the hot sauce, butter, (& optional peppers) in a bowl or pan with a tight fitting lid, set aside.
• Carefully submerse the wings in the hot oil, stir them around so they don't stick to the sides, or to to each other.
• Cook for a total of about 12 minutes stirring occasionally, once they start to float to the top, let them cook for about 3 minutes more, until crispy and golden-brown
• "Shake" the wings of excess oil, or let them drain briefly.
• Put the wings into the bowl with the other ingredients, seal the top tightly, and shake well. Serve hot with celery, and carrots.