Making food easy to eat can be a pleasure, a pleasure akin (I imagine) to cutting the crusts off your kid's sandwiches before school.
(Off-topic and slightly embarrassing fact - the first time I made Angela a sandwich, I asked her how she wanted me to slice it in half and whether I should cut off her crusts for her. If you ever want somebody to fall for you, that's apparently a good question to start with.)
But sometimes difficult food is a virtue - a good steak isn't anywhere near as satisfying if you don't slice it yourself; pancakes arriving at your diner table with maple syrup already on them would (rightly) cause a minor riot; cotton candy has to be bigger than your face or it absolutely doesn't count.
The epitome of this ethos, though, is difficult food that's easy to prepare, and the perfect example of this is Buffalo wings. They cover you in sauce, they're delicious and they require very, very little work, at least by my definitions.
This recipe is a minor alteration of a recipe that is available all over the internet (though I got my working copy from cdkitchen.com) that supposedly has managed to escape from the Anchor Bar, the self-proclaimed home of buffalo wings in Buffalo, New York. How authentic it is, I would love to know, but it's tasty by any standards.
My version is less salty, slightly less spicy and more flavorful than the one's I've found; feel free to futz around with the proportions (it's a lot of pinches and dashes anyway) but keep this in mind: if you want to make it less spicy but want to keep its body, add more Frank's, not less tabasco. It's backwards, but it works.
Heavy Pinches of:
- Cayenne pepper
- Black pepper
- celery salt
- garlic powder
Fair warning - you're going to be deep frying these wings. You can bake them if you want, but I've done both and frying them tastes leagues better.
Heat two inches of oil (soybean, canola or peanut; I like soybean) in the bottom of a big pot to 375 degrees Farenheit. Drop the halved wings gently into the oil and stand back; they're going to spit like crazy.
While they're frying, combine all of the rest of the ingredients in a small pot until warm; cover and turn off heat.
Pull the wings from the oil with metal tongs when finished and dry them on paper towels. Put them in a bowl, pour the sauce over them and toss to cover. Serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery.
You're working with hot oil. For the love of all that's holy, be careful. If you have pets or kids, lock them out of the kitchen. Make sure your tools are clean and dry before you start. Get a spatter shield. Stand back as you add the wings to the oil and add them gently to keep spatter to the minimum. Don't reach over or around the oil for any reason. Don't move the pot from one burner to another (or anywhere else) until the oil is room temperature.
Learning how to safely deep fry is worth it (ever want to make your own french fries? Guess how!) but please be smart about it.
You can get wings split up into pieces at the market, either fresh or frozen, but I like to cut them up myself - apart from it being much, much cheaper and dirt simple, you also get the wing tips where are fantastic to save for soup stock. Use a pair of kitchen shears and split them at the joint; fry what you want and freeze the rest for later.
You can make your own bleu cheese dipping sauce, but try this first: go to the market and get the cheapest generic-brand bleu cheese dressing you can find (I get bottles that last through fifty wings without rationing for a buck fifty) and try that first. I can practically guarantee that no dipping sauce you make will improve on it without making the hassle totally not worth it. I mean, have you ever worked with bleu cheese? It's like trying to cut through a block of semi-frozen mayonnaise.
And on the subject: don't be stingy with the dipping sauce, and serve it on ice. Nothing sucks more than running out of bleu cheese before you run out of wings, and it doesn't have the same effect warm. Get a glass bowl, fill it with ice, and put a little ceramic pot filled with cheese in the middle with celery around it. It's worth it.
(Also posted to Wtfork.net)