Sunday, January 12, 2014

It Is One Golden Hot Year For Wings!

Huddle up. I have some news. Buffalo Wings are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. I'm not sure of the exact date. Although, I have narrowed it down to either March 4th or October 30th. Let me explain.

According to the current Anchor Bar website, said place of the "invention" of Buffalo Wings,

One night back on March 4, 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was tending bar at the now famous Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, New York. Late that evening, a group of Dominic's friends arrived at the bar with ravenous appetites. Dominic asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his friends to eat....

And Buffalo Wings were "born." For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Buffalo Wings, I grabbed this quick description from wiki.

A Buffalo wing, Buffalo chicken wing, hot wing, or wing, is a chicken wing section (wingette or drumette) that is generally deep-fried, unbreaded, and coated in vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter. They are served hot, along with celery sticks and/or carrot sticks with blue cheese dressing for dipping. The residents of Buffalo generally refer to them as "wings" or "chicken wings" and never use the term "hot wings" or "Buffalo Wings" to describe them...

It seems the year of the "birth" of the Buffalo Wing is unequivocally 1964. However, the day seems to be drenched in obscurity. Was it March 4th or October 30 as proposed in this article in Men's Health published in 1969. (although it makes a reference to the National Wing Day Proclamation on September 29 in 1977, so perhaps it was updated:)

The Inaugural Wings:
 Buffalo wings were born Oct. 30, 1964, when Dom Bellissimo, bartender at Anchor Bar and son of the owners, challenged his mother to whip up a late-night snack for his friends. "They wanted something different. [Teresso] remembered she had these chicken wings that were too meaty to use as scraps," Toscani says. She chopped off the tip of each wing, tossed them in the fryer, added a spicy red sauce, and served them up with celery and blue-cheese dressing. Needless to say, they were an instant hit.

The Secret Formula
Toscani is not about to spill the secret to Anchor Bar’s unrivaled wing recipe, but he shared a few guidelines for making your own.

  • Never use frozen wings: Anchor Bar never has and never will.
  • Big wings work best: Small chicken wings are for stock and soup. Only the big wings have enough meat to sink your teeth into.
  • Dish out for good oil: Anchor Bar uses the best oil money can buy, Toscani says. Fry up your wings in a saturated fat-free oil.
  • Give them a good fry: It is mandatory that the fryer be able to maintain a high cooking temperature for the duration of the cooking process.
The History of Buffalo Wings

U.S.A Cookbook Sheila Lutkins ©1997.

Just because I'm curious about these things, I took a quick trip over to an online calendar for 1964 to see what day of the week each of the purported dates fell on. March 4th was a Wednesday, perhaps a "hump day" finger lickin' food reward, and October 30th was a Friday which to me sounds like the more likely day.

Jane and Michael Stern wrote Real American Cooking in 1986. I am very fortunate to have a first edition of their book. Here's what they have to say about the "history" of Buffalo Chicken Wings. Notice they "became an Anchor Bar attraction every Friday."

Real American Food Jane & Michael Stern ©1986

Whatever the day, no one really seems to mind. I'm not even sure anyone will truly celebrate the Golden Anniversary of the Buffalo Wing this year because like so many dishes ingrained in our food culture, we have a tendency to seek comfort in their existence not really thinking about how or when they came about:) In the 21st century most people celebrate National Wing Day on July 29th which really doesn't make any sense to me considering the most popular time of year for indulging ourselves in saucy hands and finger bites is usually Super Bowl Sunday which in 2014 lands on February 2nd.

Whew! Now I know what Calvin Trillin must have felt like when he was attempting to compile a short history of Buffalo Wings back in 1980 for New Yorker Magazine. He did manage to bring their history and notoriety to the next level and then some.

...Fortunately, the actual moment that Buffalo chicken wings were invented has been described by Frank Bellissimo and his son, Dom, with the sort of rich detail that any historian would value; unfortunately, they use different details. Frank Bellissimo is in his eighties now, and more or less retired; he and his wife, Teressa, are pretty much confined to an apartment above the Anchor Bar. According to the account he has given many times over the years, the invention of the Buffalo chicken wing came about because of a mistake—the delivery of some chicken wings instead of the backs and necks that were ordinarily used in making spaghetti sauce. Frank Bellissimo thought it was a shame to use the wings for sauce. "They were looking at you, like saying, "I don’t belong in the sauce," he has often recalled. He implored his wife, who was doing the cooking, to figure out some more dignified end for the wings. Teressa Bellissimo decided to make some hors d’oeuvres for the bar—and the Buffalo chicken wing was born.

Dom Bellissimo—a short, effusive man who now acts as the bustling host of the Anchor Bar—tells a story that does not include a mistaken delivery or, for that matter, Frank Bellissimo. According to Dom, it was late on a Friday night in 1964, a time when Roman Catholics still confined themselves to fish and vegetables on Fridays. He was tending the bar. Some regulars had been spending a lot of money, and Dom asked his mother to make something special to pass around gratis at the stroke of midnight. Teressa Bellissimo picked up some chicken wings—parts of a chicken that most people do not consider even good enough to give away to barflies—and the Buffalo chicken wing was born...

With Super Bowl Season descending upon us, I just couldn't wait to let you "guys" know in plenty of time to prepare for the celebration! I don't know when the rest of the world will be celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the Buffalo Wing but we, dear readers, are beginning our celebration today! Let's begin with the dipping sauce so it has time to chill while we deep fry those wings! One of my favorite Buffalo Wing sauces is not made with the "typical" blue cheese dressing.

I prefer this Maytag Blue Dip recipe as found in the U.S.A Cookbook by Sheila Lutkins published in 1997.

I am curiously attracted to this recipe titled Bleu Cheese Cake...

...which I discovered in Beginning Again first published in 1981.

Now that we have the Buffalo Wing recipe (see up above) and the bleu cheese dressing, we need some celery curls. After all, it is a celebration! Here are the directions from The Book of Garnishes by June Budgen.

Now grab the recipe for The Fire and Ice Boom, Buffalo's "official" city cocktail and get ready to do "The Small Bone Twist!"

I've taken the liberty of starting a Buffalo & Wing Pinterest board. If you would like to be a contributor, just let me know and I'll add you to the list of contributors. If you have a favorite Wing recipe and are not on Pinterest, leave the link in the comment section and I will pin it for you, if you like:) The board's theme is all things "Buffalo" and of course Wings too! It is not limited to only Buffalo Wings, all your favorite wing recipes are welcome! Enjoy! Louise:)