No one wants to be the self-righteous “I-make-everything-at-home-and-so-should-you” guy. That guy’s a dick. That’s the guy who shows up to your house to watch the playoffs—because he’s also self-righteous about not having a TV—and brings a mason jar full of homemade ketchup, and while you’re trying to focus on Steph Curry knocking down pick-and-pop threes, he’s yammering on about making his own custom brown sugar blends. “Bro, seriously, it’s just molasses and cane sugar, you need to get on this.”
And if he’s really a dick, he’s going to use word “artisanal” at least twice before the first TV time-out.
I’m not that guy, and if I ever become that guy, I want someone to hit me in the face with a phonebook. There are certain things that should be homemade, and even more things that shouldn’t. Ketchup is in the latter group: Go to the store, buy a bottle of Heinz for $2.49, and save yourself the two hours of prep work and lifetime of ridicule.
That being said, en route to the ketchup, if you happen to pass by the deli section with the pre-made Buffalo wings—for the love of God, don’t touch them. Don’t even look at them. Those microwaveable, flaccid grocery store piss-poor excuse for Buffalo wings are the white flag of life, and you haven’t given up yet, dammit. Go to the poultry section—or, if you have trusted local butcher, do that—and grab yourself a pack of raw chicken wings. It’s worth it.
Dry the wings with some paper towels—never rinse raw chicken in the sink, unless you’re trying to mortar shell salmonella all around your kitchen—and spread them out, skin-side-up on a cutting board. Find the joint between the wing and drumette, and crack through it with your most heavy-duty knife until you have two separate wing parts. Repeat the process with the wing and the wing tip, then save the tips for making stock.
Now, this is going to be a huge point of contention, but I’ll defend it to the death: Preheat your oven to 425. I know, I know, I’m not frying the wings, and I’m a bad person—but it’s really not necessary. The Anchor bar, ground zero of the original buffalo wing, even advocates roasting as a substitute for frying.
Season your wings with a little bit of salt and pepper, make sure they’re completely dry, then throw them on a roasting rack and into the 425 degree oven, skin-side-up. That way, all that subcutaneous fat is going to melt through your meat, making everything crispy, and tender, and the opposite of those epitome-of-human-sadness grocery store wings. You can even lie to your friends and tell them they were fried—they won’t be able to tell the difference.
While you’re letting those run in the oven for 40-45 minutes, start on your buffalo sauce. Staying true to the original formula, combine equal parts melted, salted butter and Louisiana-style hot sauce. I go with Frank’s Red Hot, because they have that commercial with the old lady saying “shit,” and I like to reward good marketing.
The buttery hot sauce mixture becomes your canvas. I added some smoked paprika, a little crushed garlic, and a few dashes of a hot sauce called Reaper of Sorrow—which is surprisingly tasty. From there, take your wings out of the oven, toss them in the sauce, and plate up with a puddle of ranch or blue cheese.
You can add some carrot sticks and celery on the side if you’re really trying to impress someone—but, seriously, do people actually eat those?
Photos by Photos by Josh Scherer