Wander into a bar -- any bar, anywhere in America. Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu. No description is necessary. You know you're getting unbreaded, deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and melted butter sauce. They'll arrive with celery and carrot sticks, and either blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping or drizzling. You will most likely be asked to specify if you want your wings coated in a mild, medium or hot version of the sauce. Buffalo wing sauce is a classic concoction. Read on:
Frank's RedHot is synonymous with Buffalo chicken wings. Why? Frank's was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo chicken wing sauce recipe created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY in 1964 by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo.
There are three stories regarding the invention of Buffalo wings and all three come directly from members of the family, their closest friends and loyal bar patrons:
1) Their son Dominic arrived late at night with a few hungry college buddies. Teresa needed a fast snack and threw some chicken wings (which would normally be used to make chicken stock) in the deep-fryer and tossed them with some hot sauce and melted butter.
2) There was a mis-delivery of wings instead of backs and necks (which Teresa used to make the bar's spaghetti sauce. Faced with tossing them out or taking up freezer space, Frank asked Theresa to come up with a use for them.
3) Dominic was working late in the kitchen on a Friday night and folks were still ordering a lot of drinks. He wanted to do something nice for the patrons (who were mostly Catholic) and Teresa came up with the idea of wings, as it was after midnight and they were able to eat meat again.
In 1977, Buffalo officially declared July 29th, Chicken Wing Day.
By the 1980's, Buffalo wing sauce was being applied to a list of other food creations too: "Buffalo" chicken dip, "Buffalo" chicken quesadillas, "Buffalo" chicken salad (one of my personal favorites), "Buffalo" chicken pizza, "Buffalo" popcorn chicken and shrimp, and, "Buffalo" chicken fingers, nuggets and fries. If it's got "Buffalo" in the name, it's got Buffalo sauce in it, on it, or alongside it. There's even "Buffalo"-flavored potato chips (sorry -- not one of my favorites).
It was inevitable that Frank's would start bottling and mass marketing their wing sauce. Several other brands followed suit too. For my taste, Frank's is #1. That said, my husband likes a brand called Texas Pete. Crystal is popular with a lot of folks, and, of course, there's an Anchor Bar wing sauce too.
< I borrowed this photo from the Serious Eats website. They conducted a taste test of seven brands and wrote an interesting, in-depth article about it. Read it.
What's the difference between hot pepper sauce and wing sauce?
The four bottles pictured above, from left to right, were the top four in the Serious Eats wing sauce taste test. Aside from their #1, Anchor Bar, (which I've not tasted), I have tried the other three (and their cayenne pepper sauces too). I'm using Frank's brand because it is my favorite (and it's worth noting the winner of Serious Eats best hot pepper sauce taste test). So, what is the difference between bottled hot pepper sauces and wing sauces? Wing sauces simply have butter flavoring added to them.
While bottled wing sauce is convenient, you're getting butter flavoring rather than real butter. If it is convenience you need, go for it -- bottled wing sauces taste just fine unless your tasting them side-by-side one made with real-deal melted butter. Interestingly enough, if you take the time to read the back label on any bottle of cayenne pepper sauce, you'll find instructions for making wing sauce -- and it simply says to mix their hot sauce with some amount of melted butter.
In a 2-cup measuring container, in the microwave, melt:
4 ounces salted butter (1 stick)
1 cup Frank's RedHot
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Note: To make your wing sauce hot, or extra-hot, add cayenne pepper (ground red pepper) in 1/4 teaspoon increments until you achieve the desired heat. If you like your wing sauce sweeter, whisk in 1 tablespoon honey. For a smoky flavor, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika will do the trick. I occasionally add 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, because I love onion flavor, and, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder is another option that my son enjoys.
Frank's-Style Buffalo-Style Chicken Wing Sauce: Recipe yields 1 generous cup wing sauce, enough to coat 4 dozen chicken wings (taken from 6 total pounds of whole chicken wings that have been separated into three pieces each).
Special Equipment List: 1 cup measuring container; whisk
Cook's Note & Tip from Mel: Chicken wings have 3 parts, the meatier drumette, the wingette and, the skinny wing tip. Once separated (via a pair of poultry shears), I only serve the drumettes and wingettes. I freeze the tips to make chicken stock. To learn how I cut, cook and sauce chicken wings, read ~ JoePa's Chicken Wings: Deep-Fried to Perfection ~ in Categories 1, 2 or 17.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)