Ultimate Grilled Buffalo Wings
August 5, 2011
This week we’ve gotten a taste of New York style barbecue and grilling with our tips on urban grilling. So for today’s recipe, I turned to New York food blogger extraordinaire Joshua Bousel of The Meatwave for insight in to his signature grilled buffalo (New York) wings!
I’m fresh off a solid week of wings thanks to the best assignment given to me by Serious Eats. The mission that I chose to accept was to find five non-buffalo wing recipes that would entice serious eaters. Seeing as I’m a man of excess, I ended the week with eight recipes, over a hundred wings, and a severely broken New Years resolution. I was also left with one nagging desire that had to be fulfilled—Buffalo wings, well, not just Buffalo wings, but ultimate grilled Buffalo wings!
Now I can’t take full credit for these wings, since they’re a combination of the work of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Cooks Illustrated with my own grilling know-how thrown in. To start these off, the baking powder method to perfectly crisp skin was implemented. Basically, the wings are tossed with baking powder and given at least 8 hours to sit in the fridge, which creates the super crisp and textured skin.
A good rest for the chicken allows proper time to contemplate sauce. I used to be a solid Frank’s and butter man, but the more I made wings, the more I fiddled with the ingredients. During that time is when Cook’s Illustrated came out with their master recipe for buffalo sauce, which I quickly adopted with a few minor revisions. Although Frank’s still dominates, the addition of another hot sauce, brown sugar, honey, vinegar, and cayenne creates a depth that instantly elevates any wings above the commonplace.
Here’s where my contribution comes into play, wings meant for the oven or fryer are instead taken to grill. Over indirect high heat for about 30 minutes, the wings get fully cooked, browned, and crisp. From here, some grilling magic is applied by giving the wings just a little time over direct heat, producing beautiful little char blisters.
That time over the hot coals also creates added texture and flavor, making these grilled wings stand out among their non-grilled brethren. You get the crispy, you get the juicy, but you also get that char and little smokiness that makes grilling anything a pretty good idea.
Tossed with the sauce, these are now wings that cannot be beat. That burning spice with just a hint of sweetness is exactly what was needed after a week of exploring the immense varieties wings can come in. I loved everything I created for Wing Week, but there’s something about the Buffalo wing that is just so right, so perfect, that nothing could ever take its place.
Ultimate Grilled Buffalo Wings
3 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons Texas Pete’s or other hot sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
1. Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels. Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle with the baking powder, cayenne, and salt and toss to evenly coat. Arrange the wings in a single layer on wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
2. Place butter in a small saucepan and melt over low heat. Whisk in the hot sauces, brown sugar, honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne to taste until combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When charcoal is fully lit and covered in gray ash, pour coals out and arrange them on one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the wings skin side up over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are crisp and are starting to brown, about 30-40 minutes. Flip the wings over and move to the hot side of the grill and continue to cook until the skins just begin to char, about 1-3 minutes. Remove the wings to a bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings and toss to coat evenly. Remove wings to a plate and serve hot.