There are a few key flavours that are completely American in my opinion. On the sweet side you have coffee and cinnamon (I will definitely be revisiting these soon!) and on the savour BBQ… or at least I thought so before we got here. Buffalo sauce isn’t something I’ve heard too much about in the UK, I knew of its existence but never really though if it as a ‘big deal’ American food wise- how wrong I was. Buffalo chicken wings with the ever present blue cheese dip are a staple on the appetiser or bar menu here and like most well loved things, have a few different variations. Essentially you toss your crispy fried chicken in the hot, sweet and spicy rich orangey red sauce and make a huge mess of yourself getting stuck in with your hands. The blue cheese dip is a brilliant accompaniment as it cools down the spice from the chicken sauce- though it does also add to the mess!
Like I say, we’ve come across a very different variations ranging from the home made to the mass produced and from the sweet to the tear inducing-ly spicy. Here’s my recipe for chicken wings in Buffalo sauce.
16 wings-the wings I used were the full wing joint rather than the little ones so you could use more, smaller wings with this amount of sauce. Also try it with chicken drumsticks and thighs
Salt and pepper
Enough oil for frying- not full deep fat frying but so the chicken is submerged in a good inch of oil, the amount will depend on your pan
1 large red (bell) pepper
3 large plum tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
Fresh chilli- the potency and number of chillies depends entirely on your preference for heat in the finished dish
2 anchovy fillets
½ cup salted butter
Salt and Pepper
A splash of beer
Tobasco- should you wish
The blue cheese dip-
½ of your favourite blue cheese- I used gorgonzola
1 cup sour cream- These amount can be increased in the same ratio to make more!
Roughly chop the garlic, pepper and chilli before tumbling into a roasting pan and drizzling with a little oil. Quarter the tomatoes then cut out the seeds before roughly chopping the flesh and adding it to the roasting dish. Pop this in a preheated oven at 180c and leave for a good 30 mins before checking on it. When you check on it give everything a turn and splash in a glug of beer- not enough to require me giving an exact measurement but enough so that it visible in the bottom of the roasting dish. Return the dish to the oven for a further 20 mins.
You want the vegetables to be soft and squashy but have gained a little bit of colour at the edges and the beer to have cooked away. When you reach this stage remove the pan from the oven, clear a small space in the dish and add your anchovy fillets. Using a fork, mash them into the pan juices, the heat and the cooking juice will disintegrate them for you to stir into the vegetables.
Add the butter and stir until it is melted completely. At this stage I transfer all the vegetables into a bowl that I can use a stick blender in without getting covered in sauce. Using the stick blender- or regular blender (I find regular blenders such a bore to clean I am a big fan of the handheld stick blender) whizz the mixture until you have a smooth sauce. Buffalo sauce is not a thick, sticky sauce like a BBQ sauce, it’s more the consistence of thick soup but very smooth and a gorgeous deep red colour. At this point season the sauce with salt and pepper and add tobacco if you want a sharper spice. I like mellow heat of the roasted chilli but if you want something a bit punchier dash away the tobacco until your heart is content!
This is your buffalo sauce- you can do a further stage but we’ll come back to that*. The sauce can be stored in the fridge or frozen or used straight away. I usually prepare the chicken whilst the sauce ingredients roast the throw it all together at the end.
To prepare the chicken add a good big pinch of salt and pepper to a bowl of flour and mix well. Have your pan of oil on the hob ready to go- I have it on a high medium heat and tell its ready when a drip a little bit of bread into the oil and it starts to fizz but not go popping crazy.
Douse your chicken generously in the flour until the pieces are well coasted then fry in the oil. You may need to do this in batches as you don’t want to over crowd your pan. Fry until the chicken is golden brown (about 10 mins but this will depend on the size of your wings or chicken portions, the size of your pan etc…) always check the chicken is thoroughly cooked by tearing some of the chicken away at the fattest part of the wing. To be extra save I usually fry until I get the colour I want then ‘hold’ them in the oven on a low heat so they will just finish cooking but not dry out.
Making the blue cheese dip is a simple case of mashing your cheese into the sour cream then giving it a good whipping with the form to make sure its evenly distributed.
When your chicken is done, toss it in the warm buffalo sauce, serve up with you blue cheese dip on the side and plenty of napkins!
*Any chicken that isn’t finished off, or if you fancy something not quite so entirely messy you can toss your chicken (cooked or not) in the sauce then leave to marinate for 24 hours. Bake the chicken in a 180c oven for about 30 mins for raw chicken and 15 mins for cooked chicken then serve up with the above mentions accompaniments. This version of the dish isn’t quite so messy and gives a further richness to the coated chicken from the double cooking.
However you decide to serve it up- enjoy!