How I Make Buffalo Chicken Wings
Dear Lauren: Good question -- I don't think I've ever been asked that before. Like every home cook, I have a repertoire of can't-miss dishes, nearly all of them formulated after having eaten something similar in a restaurant.
In Senegal, I tasted the national dish of cheb, and couldn't wait to get home to work on the recipe, using my own memories and a French-language paperback cookbook I'd picked up in Dakar. But the original used so much palm oil that I was afraid to re-create it precisely at home, and not just because of the cost.
I make a mean fried chicken, based on the bird stylings at places like Mitchell's in Prospect Heights, and a spud recipe I invented called Potatoes Tracy that has lots of grease and cheese melted on top at the last minute. I also love to make vegetarian soups based on tomatoes that I canned upstate at a friend's summer house.
But the thing I like to make best at the moment is a retrofitted Buffalo wings recipe. It came about through research on the Web in which I learned the original way these delicate bar morsels were made.
You can source them low or high: Sometimes I go to one of the Western Beef stores and get a zillion wings for only a few dollars. Sometimes I go to a high-end boutique sustainable-meat provider and get them, for a stiffer -- but still relatively low -- amount of money. Either way, butchering them is the most delicate part of the recipe. You have get to know the wings and their intimate secrets to do this.