Saturday, November 21, 2009

Buffalo Wings

Let's get the old joke out of the way first: I'll be you didn't even know that buffaloes had wings! Ok, that's done. I suppose the official name of this dish is Spicy Buffalo-style Chicken Wings. The dish reportedly originated in the upstate New York city of Buffalo.

Wings (flats and drummettes) ready for coating and baking.

I first had buffalo wings back in the late seventies when I worked for the state in Albany. I worked with people from all over the state back then, and my coworkers from western New York found the local restaurant that served wings and their traditional accompaniment: celery stalks and blue cheese dressing.

Some of what went into my wing sauce, along with butter and garlic.

It's been a while since I had wings. I don't remember ever having them while I lived in California. I'm not sure this regional specialty has moved beyond the northeastern U.S. Maybe some of you can tell me if you've had/seen wings in other parts of the US or in Canada?

Fresh celery sticks.

Anyway, I had some again on my recent trip to Albany. And they were soooo good that Ken and I decided we should try to make them at home. Which is what we did on Thursday after Ken found packages of chicken wings at the supermarket.

Crumbled French blue cheese.

I looked at a bunch of recipes online, including this one, then adjusted the ingredients to what I had around the house. But the method was essentially the same. I coated the wings in a little oil and salt, then shook them inside a plastic bag to coat them with flour.

A serving of wings, celery, and blue cheese dressing.

After they baked in a hot oven, I poured the sauce over them and stirred the wings to coat them well. Then I served them with cut celery stalks and a blue cheese dressing that Ken made. He made a mayonnaise, then added garlic, crème fraiche, and a good bleu d'Auvergne that he mashed up with a fork. He used a stick blender to smooth the whole thing out. It was tasty. We enjoyed a Beaujolais Nouveau with the meal.

So our wings experiment was a great success! We're definitely going to do this again. Not only Buffalo-style, but also with variations using Thai and Vietnamese flavors.


  1. Well fancy that, I never thought I'd see good old Lea & Perrins English Worcestershire Sauce in a recipe for an American dish, cooked by an American person living in France, on a blog !!
    I have been putting it in stews and casseroles for 30 years, just like my mother did.
    There was a scandal here a few years ago where a rival maker (I can't remember the name) of the stuff had been putting a banned substance (colouring or spice, I can't remember which) in their product and Lea & Perrins also suffered loss of sales. I remained faithful, though - couldn't imagine my old fashioned beef stew or liver & onion casserole without it !!

  2. I came across this great video a couple of days ago....

  3. Jean, Worcestershire Sauce is pretty much a standard ingredient in America. We use it a lot, and so do people in France, judging from the cooking shows I watch on CuisineTV.

  4. Buffalo wings were, in fact, invented in my hometown of Buffalo at the Anchor Bar. The legend is that the owner fried them up and coated them with hot sauce for a couple of regulars who needed something to eat late one night. They loved them, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    We had them in California several times, the Chestnut Street Bar and Grill in San Francisco and a place called Buffalo Wings Cafe in Sonoma during the 1980s. Most of the chains do awful renditions too.

    The funny thing is that apparently the USA is 'running out' of chicken wings ... they are so popular. Odd, since the original idea was using something that was unwanted and therefore cheap.

    Of course, the wings and blue cheese sauce you guys made is several orders of magnitude better than what you can get in a restaurant, but that's true of everything you seem to cook.

    Next time I'm in Buffalo I will take some photos of the Anchor Bar - it's quite famous now - and somewhat over the top (in a good way) decorated, worth a visit if you are ever in Buffalo.

  5. Buffalo wings are pretty popular as they are served them as a snack on movie sets in the past 15 years or so. Great "finger food"! (I like your description of the hand blender "stick blender").

  6. Oh, my heavens, hot wings are EVERYWHERE around here in the midwest. They are on the appetizer list of just about every restaurant, and certain restaurants are known for theirs as being particularly well-done. Around here, they are, however, always deep-fried, never baked.

    Yours, with that great sauce by Ken, sounded and looked fab!


  7. Wings are so popular here in Alabama that you can buy them frozen at Walmart!

    We Americans love Worcestershire sauce- I always put in my spaghetti and soups. I'd almost forgotten that it was a British product.

  8. Judy, the sauce I made was the blue cheese dressing. The sauce for the wings was Walt's. We thought about deep-frying them, but oven-cooking them seemed better, and they were great.

  9. Where is Callie during your state side adventures? Do I need to worry about her (I am a worrier).

  10. Jean, to echo Ken, Lea&Perrins is ubiquitous in the U.S. - I think it came over with the pilgrims on the Mayflower.

    And Buffalo-style wings are everywhere too, now even promoted at the Pizza Hut chain ("wing bar quality" - sheesh!).

    Perhaps genetic engineering can solve the great chicken wing shortage. Or maybe raising chickens downstream from nuclear power plants.

  11. I cook with turkey a lot and I always use Worcestershire Sauce.

  12. I once tried to calculate how many chickens it would take to support the hot wing industry - it was mind boggling. We, here in Arizona, have had them for many years and they used to be 5 cents a piece during happy hour and on Sundays. Haven't had them in years!

  13. Stephen, Callie was home in France with Ken while Walt was in the states. So no need to worry!

    Donna in SF

  14. jean, as others have said, Lea & Perrins is a staple in American kitchens. I didn't even know it was English until much later in life.

    cheryl, thanks!

    andy, thanks for the info. Obviously I was oblivious to the wing thing while I was in California!

    nadege, well, that must be it. I didn't spend much time on movie sets!

    judy, again, I was clueless! But I know that wings are deep fried. The home recipes say doing them in the oven is a good substitute, with less mess. We may actually try frying them next time.

    evelyn, wings from Walmart! Oh my.

    stephen, as Donna said, she was home with Ken, safe and sound!

    john, Pizza Hut? Ugh!

    starman, I love it on steak.

    lynn, Arizona, too? Wow. They have gotten around, those wings!

    donna, right! Thanks. :)

  15. I had wings plenty in California. I can remember having them at a bar in Long Beach as early as 1989. Oh and they're here in Montreal too.

  16. torn, I don't know how I managed to miss the wing thing in California. I lived there between 1986 and 2003 and don't recall wings. I guess I wasn't looking! Glad to hear you have them in Montréal. I'm not surprised by that at all.

  17. We must have been eating in too many French, Mexican, and Thai restaurants in SF to run into Buffalo wings.

  18. what a coincidence.
    I spent some time this morning sorting through my nearly a dozen recipes for chicken wing variations, hoping to find one for this week.
    I love them so.

  19. we had buffalo / hot wings/ or just plain old chicken wings in Nevada, Northern California, San Diego, and they are very popular here in Bellingham, WA.


  20. michael, it's funny but we don't often see wings in our supermarkets. Sometimes we do, but normally you'd have to ask for them. Ahead of time.

    victoria, they certainly are more widespread than I was aware of!

  21. Buffalo wings are on nearly every restaurant's appetizer menu. I love them, too.


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