Floured? Isn’t Buffalo wing deep fried without coating then dipped in spicy sauce? Well, that depends on which version of the dish’s origin you believe. As with many dishes that have become wildly popular over time, there is more than one story behind the origin of Buffalo wings.
Teressa Bellissimo’s unbreaded Buffalo wings
The well accepted story behind Buffalo wings is that it was invented at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York and, hence, its name. The cook was the bar’s co-owner, Teressa Bellissimo. Her husband and co-owner, Frank, told a story about how a delivery mistake left them with chicken wings that they didn’t know what to do with. It was 1964 and, back then, chicken wings were considered throwaway in the American kitchen. He said he asked his wife to put the wings to good use, she deep-fried the wings and coated them in spicy sauce.
The curious thing about the Anchor Bar story is that Bellissimo’s son, Dominic, who took over the management in the 1970s, tells it differently. His story revolves around a busy Friday night in 1964 when regulars — Catholics who observed the fish and veggies only diet on Fridays — had been spending a lot of money in the bar and he wanted to serve them something “on the house”. His mother fried unbreaded chicken wings, dipped them in spicy sauce, and the bar served them to the regulars after the stroke of midnight so as not to break the customers’ meatless Friday rule.
While it can be argued that father’s and son’s stories may be the same but simply told from different perspectives, still, there might be reason to believe that both have been made up.
… there was a 1969 in depth article done on the Anchor Bar by the Courier-Express, and nowhere in there do they mention chicken wings being served there- a food item the restaurant was supposedly famous for at this point“Why Buffalo wings are called that” in Today I Found Out
John Young’s breaded Buffalo wings
In the other story behind the origin of Buffalo wings, the inventor is African-American John Young. Young grew up in an Alabama farm. In the South, chicken wings — along with organ meats and other animal parts that white men did not consider good enough to eat — had been part of the poor people’s diet since before the Civil War.
John Young moved to New York as a teenager and worked in various restaurants. He started selling chicken wings in 1963 and, the following year, opened Wings ’n Things. John’s chicken wings were breaded before they were fried then coated with “mambo sauce” which he invented.
Buffalo wings today
Whether it was the Teressa Bellissimo or John Young who deserves credit for creating Buffalo wings, the popularity of the once discarded chicken part has soared over the years. Just like a blockbuster movie or a runaway hit TV series, it has spawned sequels and spin-offs. Today, chicken wings are also sold boneless and the variety of sauces they are dipped in is staggering. I’m adding my version to the mix by baking the wings and using Sriracha in place of cayenne in the sauce.
Baked Buffalo chicken wings
- 8 chicken wings
- ¾ tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup full-fat milk
- ½ cup all-purpose flour - you may need more
- ¾ cup butter - divided
- ¼ cup hot sauce - I used Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- Wipe the chicken wings with paper towels.
- Cut each wing into drumette and wingette, and set aside the wingtips for making chicken bone broth.
- Place the wingettes and drumettes in a bowl.
- Add the salt, pepper and quarter cup of milk. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least two hours (overnight is better!).
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Line a tray with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and place a rack above the tray.
- Spray or brush the rack with oil.
- Place the flour and remaining milk in two shallow bowls.
- Dredge each piece if chicken in flour; shake off the excess.
- Dip in milk then dredge in flour once more.
- Melt the butter and pour half a cup in a bowl.
- Dip each piece of chicken in the melted butter (this is what will make it crisp in the oven!) and arrange on the prepared rack at least an inch apart.
- Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
Make the sauce
- Put the remaining melted butter, hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix well until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Taste and make whatever adjustments you feel is necessary.
- When the chicken wings are done, add to the sauce in the bowl. With a spatula, mix until the chicken pieces are completely covered with sauce.
- Serve the Buffalo chicken wings at once.