Let’s talk about wings. Buffalo wings. But not just any Buffalo wings, let’s talk about actually-crispy Buffalo wings. Those unadulterated, crunchy, hot and vinegary nuggets of pure awesome.
Over the years, I have had my share of flaccid, tough, gristly, greasy wings and after scouring each and every corner of the internet looking for the perfect, crunch-filled recipe with absolutely zero luck, I made it my personal mission to nail the perfect wing and document how, so that no one else need go to the trouble. So save the ‘healthier’, baked versions for another day, because I like to do things properly and right now, it’s all about the uber crispy specimens. First off, let me tell you that every single recipe that you find on Pinterest or in the land of Google, that claims to offer baked wings that are crisp, is lying. There, I said it. It’s an outright untruth and you should not even entertain such heresy with a click. You won’t get crispy skin on your wings if you bake them. Even if you bake them twice. Hell, you could pass those babies by the sun, and still, crispy skin will elude you. So just don’t bother. If you want crunch, and the best out of each and every wing, you need to plunge them into some super hot oil. No, this recipe isn’t one for those watching their waistlines, but then again, I never said it was. So let’s take a look at what I am sure we can all agree, forms the criteria for the perfect Buffalo wing:
- No artificial coating. There are recipes out there that claim that dusting your wings in baking powder, or flour, or goodness-knows-what-else will render an earth-shatteringly snappy skin. Lies, all lies. I have tried this (numerous times) and any sort of breading or batter just gives you an unpalatable starchy coating that sticks to the back of your teeth, ruins the beautiful flavour of the sauce and, quite frankly, destroys hopes and dreams. Let the skin do the talking on it’s own. Believe me when I say it’s possible.
- The perfect Buffalo wing will be decisively brittle. Underneath that sauce, there absolutely must be a blistered, bubbly surface of skin that snaps, crackles and pops with each and every bite.
- Underneath that crunchy surface, will lie a moist and juicy interior flesh, piping hot and oh, so delicious. This meat will be perfectly white and bite-through, with a distinct, but not overpowering greasiness.
- A generous quenching of a tasty, spicy sauce, made up of not much more than vinegary , buttery, bright orange-red good times.
So now that we know this, how do we get these fluttering bad boys over the line? We know I have already highlighted the importance of frying your wings, but the real secret is; fry them twice. Wings that are soft, slimy or in any way floppy are 100% unacceptable and I am telling you, after years of experimenting, this is the best (and only) way around this. A confit method will give your wings those cute little bubbles and ridges on the skin that will catch that beautiful, thick, spicy sauce – and I swear to God, it is life-changing. So now that we have the crispiness down pat, we need to look at the sauce. And given that I have had many, many a chicken wing over the years, I am now a self-proclaimed connoisseur when it comes to the best sauce for your bird. This American favourite just won’t do without that savoury, vinegary flavour I mentioned a little earlier, and you can make life hard for yourself by trying to design your own sauce, or you can just do the right thing and go with a generous smothering of Frank’s Hot Sauce. Let’s not reinvent the wheel here – the stuff is perfect and there is a reason it’s internationally famous. I’ve seen people try and replicate it, and it always begs the question: why? The sauce brings an intoxicating dash of spicy, mixed with buttery, and delivers a hint of vinegar and garlic. And when paired with a creamy blue cheese sauce for dunking, a few extra centimetres on your waistline are well and truly justified. These wings do take a little more work than your ‘standard’ Buffalo wing, but please trust me when I tell you it is well worth it. You can also freeze them after the initial fry and then pull them out on game day (or whenever the mood takes you) and finish the process with a little less work. Baked chicken wings? They’re for the birds.
Confit Buffalo Wings
Unadulterated, crunchy, hot and vinegary nuggets of pure awesome! These twice-cooked, actually-crispy Buffalo Wings are perfect for your next game day party.
- 12 cups canola oil, shortening or duck fat
- 1kg chicken wings (tips removed and cut into drumettes and flats)
- 125g unsalted butter
- 1 cup Frank’s RedHot sauce
- Blue cheese sauce (to serve)
- Celery sticks (to serve)
Using a deep fryer, heat oil/fat to 170C.
In batches, place the chicken wings in a basket and submerge in the fryer – the chicken should be gently bubbling. Continue to cook, gently shaking the basket occasionally, for 12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and skin is tender (but not crisp or browned).
Transfer chicken to a wire rack lined with paper towel and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour, or cover and rest in the fridge for up to 3 days.
After the chicken has rested and when you are ready to serve, combine the Frank’s RedHot sauce with the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally (see note).
Meanwhile, reheat the oil in the fryer to 200C and in batches, again submerge the rested wings and cook, gently shaking the basket occasionally until golden brown and crisp – about 10 minutes total.
Drain each batch on paper towel whilst cooking the remaining batches.
Transfer to a large bowl with the sauce and toss to coat evenly.
Serve with blue cheese and celery.
If you like your sauce slightly spicier, feel free to add some cayenne pepper or Tobasco to the sauce. You could also omit the butter for a little more heat, but you will lose some depth of flavour and texture.