What makes a Buffalo wing zing?

Follow these tips to ensure the perfect combination of crispy exterior and bold, spicy flavor.

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February 19, 2018 4 min read

Whether you’re perched on a stool at your favorite bar and grill or on the couch watching a game at home, nothing beats digging into a basket of Buffalo wings. Any Austin culinary arts student should have a go-to recipe for this classic finger food. Follow these tips to ensure the perfect combination of crispy exterior and bold, spicy flavor:

To dredge or not to dredge

“There are various schools of thought when it comes to breading or dredging wings.”

There are various schools of thought when it comes to breading or dredging wings before cooking. Some feel the skin should be cooked well enough to stand on its own, with no need for additional coating. However, as Bon Appetit pointed out, simply adding cornstarch can make the difference in producing ultra-crispy results.

This dredging method begins with letting the wings rest at room temperature for half an hour to allow for more even cooking. While your cooking oil is heating, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add ¾ of a cup of cornstarch to a large bowl and dredge the wings before placing them in the oil in batches.

Use the right oil

Anytime you’re frying, it’s vital to pick an appropriate oil. When it comes to making a batch of wings, choose something with a high smoke point and a neutral flavor that won’t interfere with the tastes of your sauce and the poultry itself. Canola, peanut or vegetable oil can all fill the bill nicely.

Try double-frying for exceptional skin

According to Serious Eats, frying twice is the secret to attaining juicy and tender wings with a thin, crispy crust. Following this method, there’s no need to dredge the chicken to achieve a fantastic texture.

Pour three quarts of oil into a large wok or Dutch oven and add the wings. Cook on medium-high heat, occasionally stirring, until the oil reaches a temperature between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep the temperature in that range for about 20 minutes, stirring and flipping the chicken from time to time. Once the wings have cooked through and the skin seems tender, rest them on a wire mesh placed over a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

After at least an hour, heat the oil to 400 degrees and add the wings in batches. Stir and flip the chicken while you maintain a temperature between 375 and 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Once the wings are golden brown and crispy, toss them in sauce.

You can bread or not bread your chicken wings for different textures and flavors.  Maximize the wing sauce flavor

Classic Buffalo sauce is a simple, yet delightful, combination. Just add butter and your preferred hot pepper sauce to a saucepan. Cook at medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter fully melts.

However, there’s room to step up those old-school flavors with novel touches. For instance, you might add cayenne, salt and pepper to the mix for a little more spice. The Cookful suggested taking your recipe in a classy direction by skipping the butter and instead mixing olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic with the hot sauce.

Make your own dip

Finally, there’s the dip: Why reach for a store-bought bottle when it’s so easy and delicious to prepare ranch or blue cheese dressing? The extra-flavorful ranch recipe provided by The Pioneer Woman  requires mixing garlic, parsley, chives, mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, salt, and optional add-ins such as dill, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, oregano or paprika. For blue cheese, whisk the crumbled cheese with buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Part of what makes wings so fun to cook is that there are countless options for customizing this seemingly simple favorite. Try out a few different spins on this beloved snack to perfect your own recipe.

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