(Photo Courtesy of Rick Madonik / Toronto Star / Getty Images)
Fifty years ago, Teressa Bellissimo decided to fry up chicken wings she had set aside for soup to quickly feed her son’s ravenous friends at the family restaurant, Anchor Bar, in Buffalo, New York. Since then, Buffalo wings have, of course, made their way into American food lore. Current owner Ivano Toscani says the wings “mean a lot” to this James Beard award-winning establishment. “Now everyone is copying us,” he says. “Anchor Bar would not be what it is today without Buffalo wings. It’s because of them that we’ve been such a success.”
Head chef Frank Rodriguez, a 10-year Anchor Bar veteran, makes 2,000 pounds of Buffalo wings every day (and more is shipped overnight all over the country). He deep-fries the wings in unsaturated vegetable oil in massive commercial fryers that can hold 100 or more wings at a time. Rodriguez throws them hot from the fryer, straight into a bowl of Mama Teressa’s Anchor Bar Wing Sauce, which he calls an original. “Ours is spicier and it has an Italian accent,” he says. Then he sends them all out with the cooling celery sticks and blue-cheese dip Teressa created to accompany that first batch half a century ago.
But you don’t have to be in Buffalo – or any wing joint, really – to enjoy them. They’re easy to make in a home kitchen, even if you don’t have a commercial fryer. To prepare Buffalo wings at home, fry them in good, clean oil in a heavy Dutch oven; they should come out juicy on the inside and “with a little crunch” on the outside, as Rodriguez puts it, just like the real thing.
(Serves 2 as a snack)
8–10 cups of canola or peanut oil
2 ½ pounds fresh chicken wings (12–16 whole wings)
Optional: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Anchor Bar Wing Sauce
¼ cup melted butter for medium spiciness, or to taste
Blue cheese dip
Heat oil to 350° in a Dutch oven or other deep, heavy pan. Split wings at joint, if desired. (Either use the tips, or freeze them to make stock later.) Pat dry.
Deep-fry wings, without crowding them, at 350° for 10–15 minutes, or until completely cooked (no red juices) and crispy. If necessary, fry a couple of batches to avoid overcrowding. Drain on paper towels. Anchor Bar doesn’t season its wings; if desired, sprinkle on sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Thoroughly whisk hot sauce and butter in a bowl; add more butter for a milder mix, less butter for more spice. (Anchor Bar has always used margarine, but we recommend butter or light butter as more natural options.) Toss wings in mixture until completely covered. Do this quickly so that chicken meat is still hot when served. For a lighter version, instead of deep-frying wings, bake them at 425° for 45 minutes.
Place on a platter with a clutch of fresh celery sticks and a small bowl of blue cheese dip that’s either purchased or made fresh from a mixture of crumbled blue cheese, sour cream, a little buttermilk, sea salt, ground black pepper, finely chopped chives, and a splash of fresh lemon juice to taste.
By Carol Reed