Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 10:25pm
Subject: Buffalo Wings? ‘Nuff Said
Hi Rach -
Soooooo, I think that by now you know this about me, but I’m a Buffalo wing fanatic. Well, make that anything Buffalo-style for that matter. To this day, when someone asks me my favorite food, Buffalo wings is still the first thing that comes to mind. No joke, when I was in culinary school and was taking a menu writing class, one whole section of my menu project was a “Buffalo-Style” section. My mouth waters when I see them being tossed with sauce in the bowl, the smell, the crisp wing, the spicy sauce, dipping it in ranch or blue cheese… I love the whole experience.
My #1 wing place of all-time, hands down, is Buffalo Joe’s in Evanston, IL. The first time I had their wings was actually as leftovers my brother had brought home when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I loved them leftover and cold, and I hadn’t even had them fresh at the place yet.
Anyway, I digress. I had a slight craving for wings around lunchtime the other day and a friend had told me about a place in Palatine, which is a good 30-40 minute drive from where I live in Chicago. I was willing to make the drive with a buddy of mine, but decided to give them a call first. Luckily we did, because they weren’t opening until 4pm that day. We now gave ourselves three options:
1. Go to Buffalo Joe’s.
2. Think: Is there another place I’ve been hearing about and need to try?
3. Buy raw wings at the grocery store and go to my brother’s restaurant and make them myself .
I called my brother to tell him the place we wanted to go was closed, to which he replied, “Why don’t you go buy wings, bring them here and make them?” Decision made - it was Option 3.
We got in the car and bought about 50 raw wings, along with some carrots and celery and ranch, and headed up to the ‘burbs to my brother’s place. I arrived and, without wasting any time, got to work. I cut the whole wings into a wing and a leg (I prefer the wing) and dropped them into the fryer: 10-12 minutes at about 350°F and they were done (a couple more minutes if you like them REAL crispy). While they were in the fryer, I prepared my Buffalo wing sauce. I was in a little bit of a hurry since it was nearing lunchtime at the restaurant and I didn’t want to get in the way, so I used some ingredients I had on site for the salt.
If your mouth is watering by now, you’ll be glad to know that my wing recipe is below. It’s pretty basic, but there is nothing wrong with a good, basic wing, done right. Feel free to add your favorite spices or use your favorite hot sauce as a base. I happened to use Louisiana hot sauce this day, but I am a Frank’s RedHot loyalist. And oh yes, I prefer small wings over large wings. Why? Good question. Because I like when they get really crispy and crunchy and the fat renders out yet the meat stays juicy. I don’t enjoy biting big chunks of fat on the larger wings. That’s just me, though, so don’t hate. I’ll still respect you if you like oversized jumbo wings (I just won’t eat them).
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Kappy’s Standard Buffalo Wings
8 whole chicken wings, separated into wing and leg, or 16 pieces
Oil, for frying
1/2 - 3/4 cup Frank’s RedHot sauce
4-5 tablespoons butter, cut in chunks
A pinch of celery salt (optional)
1-2 teaspoons white vinegar (optional - most hot sauces already have vinegar in them, but if you want a little zip, add a touch)
Carrots and/or celery sticks, to serve alongside
Ranch or blue cheese dressing, for dipping
If you are using a tabletop fryer, set the temperature to 350°F.
If you are using a pot, use a large, heavy-bottommed pot and do not add oil more than halfway. Bring the oil up to temperature, about 350°F . Add the wings, a few at a time, making sure the oil doesn’t bubble up too much. Leave them for about 10-20 seconds, then give them a gentle stir, then leave them for another minute. Give them another gentle stir so that they don’t all clump together. Let cook until golden brown and crisp and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. If you like your wings exceptionally crisp like I do, you can give them another 1-2 minutes in the fryer. Remove and let drain briefly.
While the wings are frying, place a small skillet or sauce pot over medium heat and add the hot sauce. When it starts to steam, turn the heat to low and whisk in a chunk of butter. Once it is fully melted, you can now start adding the other chunks, a little at a time, until fully melted. Turn off the heat and add your celery salt and vinegar, if using.
Place the wings in a large mixing bowl. Pour the sauce over the top and gently toss, trying not to splatter too much sauce on your shirt. Place in a serving dish alongside some carrot and celery sticks and your choice of ranch or blue cheese dressing.
And that’s what’s on my plate!
P.S. If you’re interested in a non-deep fried wing, I have a version that will suit this craving. Just leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to do a follow-up.
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!