The Birth of Buffalo Wings
The year is 1964. Wings are an unloved part of the chicken. Butchers sell them for pennies. Restaurants use them, if it all, in soup. One morning a distributor mistakenly delivers a crate of wings to the Anchor Bar, a restaurant in downtown Buffalo owned by Italian immigrants Frank and Teressa Bellissimo. Teressa wants to send the crate back. Frank doesn’t want to disturb the distributor. A fight ensues. What is she going to do with all those wings? Later that night, unable to sleep, Teressa gets up, goes to her kitchen, and begins experimenting. By dawn, the Buffalo wing was born.
- A traditional Buffalo wing is an unbreaded chicken wing, cut in half (with the tip discarded), deep-fried and coated in a mixture of cayenne-pepper sauce and butter
- There was pepper sauce in Belissimo’s kitchen because she was from Sicily and Sicilian cuisine is spicy
- Wings were originally given out free at the Anchor Bar, along with peanuts and pretzels. The practice was ended because customers liked wings so much they stopped ordering regular meals
- Celery and blue cheese were added as a side when wings were later put on the menu
- 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Buffalo wing (the exact date is believed to be March 4, 1964)
- WING HUNT contains the only known footage of an eye-witness account of that fateful night
- The reigning “World’s Best Wing”, as chosen by the Wing Hunters, was largely unknown to wing buffs, and did not, at the time of discovery, appear on the menu of the restaurant where it was invented. Instead, It was in regular rotation on a lunch buffet.
During their 16-day journey through America’s Wing Belt, the Wing Hunters made 72 stops. These were the highlights. (Winner not labeled to avoid spoiling the film’s ending.)
Director’s Recipe (as seen in the film)
- 23 oz bottle of Frank’s Red Hot (don’t use generics)
- 1-2 sticks butter
- 1/2 bell pepper
- 4-8 hot peppers (habaneros, serrano, jalapeno, etc. — grab an assortment of what’s available at your local supermarket)
- 1/2-2 tablespoon honey-mustard
- 10-20 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed or chopped
- Celery salt
- Assorted hot sauces (Tabasco, Cholula, etc)
SAUTE garlic in one stick of butter for 1-2 minutes on low/medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Add HALF of the peppers, both bell and hot, finely chopped. Saute mixture 1-2 minutes. Pour in Frank’s.
Simmer and stir for 5-10 minutes, adding mustard and dashes of celery salt and assorted hot sauces to taste. If sauce tastes bitter (caused by some peppers) add honey-mustard (or just plain honey) until bitterness disappears.
Keep simmering. For a milder sauce, add more butter; for hotter sauce, add more peppers.
Let simmer for another 5-15 min, until sauce thickens and reduces by 5-10 pct; Adjust ingredients to taste.
FRYING is a world unto itself. Know your deep frier. ALWAYS use fresh wings (never frozen). Always naked (never breaded). Take wings out of refrigerator at least an hour before frying and let sit at room temperature. If using frozen wings, thaw completely before frying. 375 is a good temperature for more friers, but test yours because each frier is different. Frying should take 8-12 minutes. Aim to hit the sweet spot where the wings come out crispy on the outside but still tender and juicy (but not undercooked) on the inside.
Order Wing Hunt