One our of family holiday traditions is the “Junk Food Feast” which grew out of my childhood. On New Years Eve we would eat things like veggies and ranch dip and potato chips with French Onion Dip. Maybe mom served a real dinner earlier in the evening but I don’t remember.
As we started our own family, Honeybear and I added things and we moved it to Christmas Eve and it was the dinner. (Now it is served either on New Year’s Eve or anytime after December 25 but before January 6.)
Buffalo Style Chicken Wings made their first appearance for Christmas 1995. We were in Alabama and a fellow military spouse, Sally, taught me how to make them. These are the best Chicken Wings I have ever had. You can make them as spicy or mild as you like and they still have lots and lots of flavor. I would not classify this as healthy, and since I only make them once or twice a year I don’t worry about it. (I would find a way to make these Trim Healthy Mama friendly if I wanted to serve them more frequently and reserve the not healthy for our holiday tradition.)
Buffalo Chicken Wings
I use my deep fryer for this. It’s not large so we have to fry them in batches but this really gets the coating crispy. I buy chicken wings that have the tip cut off and the join separated. I buy them frozen. I just don’t want to deal with preparing them myself.
I do try to thaw the wings a bit and then I par bake them at 400* for about 20 minutes. You can skip the par baking but then you’ll need to deep fry them longer to be sure they are cooked. I buy the 4 lb. bag and par bake in two batches.
After par baking the wings, you’ll want to coat them with flour. It’s the flour combined with the deep frying that adds that nice crispy crunch. You don’t want to have too much flour in the bowl because the more you have left over the more you have to waste by throwing it away. I floured and fried in batches of 5-7 wings.
Once they are coated with the flour, I put them in the deep fryer. Most of the time Honeybear does the deep frying for me and I do the sauce coating but this year I had to do it all because he was working that day. Honeybear sets the deep fryer for 400* and we found that 7-9 minutes got them just right for us.
The secret’s in the sauce. No really. That’s not just a cliché. A really good Buffalo sauce, in my opinion, needs to have flavor, not just heat. This sauce can be as spicy hot as you want or as super mild as your kids may need but in either case it delivers fabulous flavor. Melt butter (I usually use a stick plus a couple of tablespoons.), add a packet of dry Ranch Dressing and then I use Frank’s Red Hot. Add as much Red Hot as you need to get the heat level you want. I don’t use Tabasco because I think it is all heat and no flavor. I like the flavor of the Frank’s Red Hot. Louisiana Hot Sauce (which I think is similar to Frank’s Red Hot) would work as well but I can only get Frank’s here. Mix the sauce, then coat the wings. This makes almost enough to coat 4 lbs. of chicken wings. I leave some uncoated for my daughter who doesn’t like spicy at all (she puts BBQ sauce on them) I have been known to make more sauce. I like to keep a large container of the dry ranch seasoning so that I can just measure out what I need.
Once they are coated, I lay them out on a platter. Some of us like to eat them as is and some of us (ME!) like to eat them with Blue Cheese Dressing. They are simple and delicious and I am thinking I am going to have make them for our planned Game Marathon later this month.
Quick Recipe Summary:
- 3-4 pounds chicken wing pieces
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 package Ranch Dressing Mix
- Hot Sauce, to taste
- flour (1/4 cup, maybe? just enough to coat wings)
- vegetable oil (for frying)
- Par Bake wing pieces at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. They should not be fully cooked, but they should not still be raw looking.
- While wings are baking, melt butter and mix with dry ranch dressing mix and add hot sauce to taste. In separate bowl or in a zip lock style bag, set up flour for coating.
- Coat par baked wings with flour. My deep fryer does about 7 at a time beautifully so I coat about 5-7 wing pieces at a time and transfer to deep fryer basket.
- Deep Fry 400 degrees for about 7 minutes. I fry them until they are a lovely golden brown color and nice and crispy looking.
- After letting wings drain a bit, I dump them into the melted butter ranch mix and stir to make sure they are covered in the buffalo sauce. Using tongs, transfer to serving platter.
- Repeat until all wings are cooked and coated. I never bother with the celery but you add some celery sticks to the platter and have Blue Cheese (or Creamy Ranch) dressing available for dipping.