I’m going to admit something quite sad here, when I was little I was very confused by buffalo wings… I thought they were some sort of bizarre form of buffalo or a kind of awesome buffalo/bird hybrid.
But I’m sure wasn’t alone there was I universe?
Well, that’s the last time I use this blog as a form of therapy!
Anyway, putting my past issues of being a slightly too literal child aside, you might be wondering why I embarked on the slight faff of making wings in my own home when I could have headed out for some at one of the many new American-style joints that have sprung up around my fair city of London.
Well, there could be myriad reasons for this; perhaps it’s that I don’t want to try four or five potentially disappointing joints before alighting on the perfect wings, or that I have recurring paranoia of being seen with a Joker smile of hot sauce in public, or it could be that I’m scared I’ll revert to childhood and ask them where a buffalo’s wings are…
But, in all honesty, it solely revolves around the no-booking policy of most of these places, which means queuing… and I hate queuing.
There, I’ve said it; and I’m sure this has caused my extremely minuscule quotient of cool to completely and irrevocably tank but there we are.
Plus, the best wings I’ve had in London are at The Bull in Highgate, but it’s bloody miles away from where I live sadly. Not to mention that the owner, Dan Fox, has what I consider to be a very unreasonable stance combined with a certain lack of can-do attitude.
Why do I say this? Well it’s because he has repeatedly said he can’t just ‘pick up a brewpub and transport it from Highgate to south-west London’…
See what I mean, the man is wholly unreasonable! (Oh, I’m going to pay for that!!)
But, as usual, I digress, back to the recipe. I’d just like to make one point: whilst I adore heat in my food, if you want to smother these in face-numbingly hot sauce, save yourself the hassle & don’t bother with any other stage than just chucking the wings in a fryer, you won’t taste anything else anyway and you’ll waste a lot of time for negligible results.
Other than that, please alter as you wish but I think they’re pretty finger-lickin’, face-smothering, greedy-licious good as they are!
Beer & Buttermilk Buffalo Wings – serves 4
Just a quick note, most buttermilk I come across comes in 284ml pots and whilst the marinade calls for 250ml, you might be tempted to think ‘sod it’ and chuck it all in but you need 30ml for the blue cheese sauce so don’t get totally over-excited!
20 large free-range chicken wings, jointed in half for ease of eating
330ml Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite (or anything herbal and that’s low in bitterness, like Brasserie Pietra Colomba)
4tbsps Cajun seasoning
1tbsp garlic salt
3 bay leaves
1tbsp cumin seeds
1tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp coriander seeds
Green tops from bunch of spring onions
Big handful of lemon (or normal) thyme
1tsp hot chilli flakes
Spiced Flour Mix
200g plain flour
8tbsp Cajun seasoning
3tbsp garlic salt
175ml Linghams Chilli Sauce (I wanted a fairly subtle hot sauce, no point in putting all that work into the wings if you can’t taste the damn things!)
Blue Cheese Sauce
150g Gorgonzola picante – frozen (yes, seriously!)
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/2 tsp white wine cider
1/2 tsp elderflower or cider vinegar
Little bit of cold water – you may not need it but keep it on the side
About 2l groundnut oil to deep fry
Four large carrots, chopped into chunky sticks
Four large sticks of celery, chopped into chunky sticks
Lots and lots of paper napkins or be a peasant like me and grab a roll of kitchen towel!
Marinade & First Cooking Step
- Heat a large frying pan or wok gently on a low heat
- Dry fry all seeds for 30 seconds, then chuck in rest of ingredients for another 30 secs
- Remove from heat and pour in a little water to cool and deglaze pan, pop in a large non-metallic bowl and allow to cool
- Once it’s cooled, add your beer & buttermilk & whisk thoroughly, it will smell a little funny, don’t worry it’s fine, add your chicken wings (top up with water to cover wings if necessary) and pop in the fridge for at least three hours, overnight maximum
- When you’ve done with marinading, pour the lot into a large pot and warm until bubbles just start to break the surface, allow to cook like this for about 15-20 minutes; if you have a meat thermometer then the recommended internal temperature for chicken 73C or when juices run clear
- Put on a cooling tray over a baking tray and pop in the fridge for the skins to dry until you’re ready to fry these little suckers! You can do up until this step the day before
Blue Cheese Sauce
- Mix together all the liquid ingredients, except the water, you may not need it
- Get your cheese out of the freezer at the last minute before you’re going to serve and, using the coarse setting on a grater, grate it into the wet mix and stir in every so often (why do this? because I think this is the best cheese for the dip but it’s a bugger to cut into a small enough chunks to get an even distribution through the sauce and it tends to just sink to bottom, this solves that problem)
- Let down with a little water if you require a looser consistency, pop in fridge until needed
Cooking & Serving
- Prep your carrots and celery, pop in a bowl of water and put in fridge, it’s essential they are cold and crisp
- Warm large plates and prepare small individual bowls for blue cheese sauce for each person
- When you’re ready, get plenty of groundnut oil heated up to 220C (I needed two litres) in a deep pot or fryer (caution, my wings spat oil like hell, deep pot and fry guard if you have one)
- Whilst that’s heating, melt the butter for your buffalo sauce in a small frying pan and, once it’s melted, pour in your chilli sauce and whisk together, put pan on very low heat
- Mix together the flour, Cajun and garlic salt in a large bowl, toss your wings in the seasoned flour, shake off excess and fry in batches of three or four wings, pop on cooling tray over a baking tray and pop in oven to keep warm, repeat until finished (watch oil temp doesn’t drop too low, wait in between fries a bit if you need to)
- Once all wings are cooked, plate everything but your wings up i.e. carrot, celery & blue cheese sauce
- Then take a large bowl and throw in your hot sauce, chuck in your wings, toss them very quickly and vigorously and pop them on plate and rush them to the table and enjoy getting sticky fingers!
To my mind this calls for a big pale ale made with Nelson Sauvin hops. So, Thornbridge Kipling, Kernel NS Pale Ale or even something like the Mikkeller Single Hop NS if you can still get it (not sure TBH). Alternatively, anything big and tropical will do nicely, perhaps an Oakham Green Devil.