Buffalo’s greatest culinary invention has done more than provide a satisfying riposte to anyone denigrating our fair city.
The chicken wing has changed the English language.
“To Buffalo” isn’t just a destination anymore – it’s a journey. It’s a verb meaning the act of transforming food with the wing power trio: cayenne hot sauce, blue cheese and chicken.
Around the world, people are Buffalo-ing everything from breakfast cereal to eggs Benedict. Not always for the best, to be honest: the hot-wing-flavored Oreos produced in China are proof of that.
The culinary compulsion is so powerful that lots of people eating Buffalo fried cauliflower, Buffalo shrimp and Buffalo potato skins don't realize their new favorite food has its roots in area code 716, said author Arthur Bovino.
Bovino, who wrote “Buffalo Everything: A Guide to Eating in the ‘Nickel City,’” was initially drawn to Buffalo from New York City to research how the city's most famous flavor conquered the world, and ended up so engrossed he wrote a pair of books.
“There’s just become this compulsion to apply this flavor to everything; it’s so addictive,” Bovino said. “It’s got these elements: It’s buttery, it’s spicy, it’s vinegary-tangy.”
His next volume, “The Buffalo New York Cookbook,” available Nov. 20, gives fans of Buffalo-ing plenty ideas of where to go next.
Most Buffalonians have tried Buffalo chicken wing dip. Buffalo chicken mac and cheese, sure. But what about Buffalo fried rice, Buffalo chicken sloppy joes, and Buffaslaw?
He especially adores the Buffalo chicken pot pie he came up with. Bovino remains a staunch believer that any dish can be Buffalo-ed – but that doesn’t mean he always figured out to do it.
One failed attempt, he confessed, was Buffalo monkey bread, which ended up just looking like a moldy loaf. “I’m not saying it couldn’t be done,” he said. “Just not that way.”
Of particular interest to expatriates and members of the Buffalo diaspora, Bovino’s book also includes recipes enabling users to mimic, if not actually duplicate, the treasures of Buffalo cuisine.
Not just wings, but beef on weck, Tom & Jerry cocktails, and Buffalo-style pizza, which Bovino, a longtime pizza writer, champions as “America’s most underrated regional pizza style.”
People pining for Buffalo pizza have long been able to mail-order partially baked pies. What Bovino has done is interviewed the pizzeria owners and pizza makers, then painstakingly experimented until he could reproduce Buffalo pizza, or come pretty darn close.
This isn't the end of the Buffalo-ing wave, either. He couldn’t do it for the book, but he remains a believer that Buffalo wing ice cream should be possible.
"It isn’t just applying Frank’s to things," Bovino said. "It’s applying some of the ingenuity and respect that Teressa (Belissimo) had in the moment of creating wings – not just asking 'How would Teressa do it?,' but that eureka moment.”
(From The Buffalo New York Cookbook, The Countryman Press, 178 pages, $19.95)
Buffalo pizza dough
Prep Time: 25 hours (15 minutes active); Yield: 2 dough balls
- 0.24 ounce active dry yeast
- 28.8 ounces warm water (80 to 85°F)
- 3 pounds (48 ounces) high- gluten flour
- 0.96 ounce sugar
- 0.96 ounce sea salt
- 1.4 ounces shortening
- Add yeast to a large bowl. Add water and whisk to blend. Pour into stand mixer bowl. Add flour and mix on slow. Sprinkle in sugar. After 2 minutes add salt. You may have to stop and scrape the sides to help dough come together. Restart mixer. After 2 more minutes, add shortening and mix 3 minutes.
- Remove dough to a clean bowl, cover with a clean damp cloth, and let rise for 45 minutes. Cut into two balls, place on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Take dough out 1 hour before use.
Buffalo pizza sauce
Yield: 2 cups sauce (enough for two 18- inch pizzas)
- 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil (or minced fresh)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Add olive oil to a large saucepan on low heat. Add tomato paste and water. Stir to thoroughly combine.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to combine, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool.
- Yield: Two 18- inch pizzas
- 1 cup bench flour
- 2 rounds Buffalo Pizza Dough (see recipe above)
- 8 teaspoons shortening
- 2 cups Buffalo Pizza Sauce (see recipe above)
- 42 ounces shredded mozzarella
- 4 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
- ⅔ cup sesame seeds, onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun spice, or Parmesan (optional)
- 1 pound sliced pepperoni (preferably Margherita)
- Preheat oven to its highest setting, preferably 550°F. Place pizza steel in the oven. After it reaches 550°F, keep oven closed for 1 hour.
- If you have advanced pizza dough moves, this is where to show them off. If you don’t, cheat. Generously dust dough “bench” with flour (about ½ cup). Turn one dough round in on itself underneath to form a ball. Press down in the center and push out toward the edges repeatedly while also moving the dough in a circle clockwise for 15 seconds. Lift dough, dust the surface with flour, flip dough, then stretch from the center out to the edge while turning the dough in a circle for 2 minutes, and forming a slightly raised lip. Repeat until pizza is as wide as the pan and even throughout beyond the edge.
- Use a paper towel to grease the entire surface of an 18- inch pizza pan with shortening (4 teaspoons). Place dough on pan and stretch out to arrange it so it reaches out a hair shy of the pan’s edge.
- Ladle up to 1 cup of sauce from the center out in a spiral until it’s evenly spread out over the dough up to ¼ inch of the edge. If you’re making it Bocce Club style, ladle the sauce over the edge of the crust.
- Evenly spread 21 ounces of cheese over the sauced dough. If you’re making it Bocce style, let the cheese cover the entire surface of the dough, including the crust. If you’re making it La Nova style, leave the crust rim cheese- free. You can either leave things at that or brush optional olive oil (2 teaspoons per pizza) along the rim and sprinkle sesame seed, onion powder, garlic powder, Cajun spice, or Parmesan on the crust ½ inch from the edge toward the center all the way around.
- Evenly distribute half the pepperoni so that when you cut the pie in 8 slices there are 10 to 13 slices of pepperoni on each one. If there doesn’t seem to be room, just do your best to pile them in between each other— the pepperoni will shrink as it cooks and things will fall into place. Don’t worry if things don’t look exactly symmetrical. Controlled cup- and- char chaos is the effect you’re going for. If you’re making it Bocce style, make sure you have some pepperoni on the cornicione!
- Place pan in oven for 10 minutes. Slide pizza off pan onto the steel and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Slide pie back onto the pan, cut into 8 slices, and serve.
- Repeat for the second pie.
. . .
Buffalo wings and blue cheese and buttermilk waffles
(From The Buffalo New York Cookbook, The Countryman Press, 178 pages, $19.95)
Prep Time: 3 to 24 hours, and 30 minutes (30 minutes active); Cooking Time: 1 hour; Yield: 12 to 16 waffles and 24 wings
- ½ cup warm water (110°F)
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- ½ cup milk
- ⅔ cup Saint Agur Blue (or your favorite mild blue cheese)
- ¾ cup butter
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2½ cups all- purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, separated
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- Buffalo Wing Sauce (See below)
- Old- School Buffalo Wings (See below)
- Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing (See below)
- Combine warm water and active dry yeast in a very large bowl. Let stand and foam (about 10 to 15 minutes).
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, blue cheese, and ½ cup butter. Warm until butter and cheese melt and milk reaches 120°F, whisking occasionally to combine. Add salt and sugar and dissolve.
- Lower heat to a simmer. Gradually add in the buttermilk. It will bring the temperature down (maybe even below 110°F).
- When milk- buttermilk mixture reaches 110°F, remove from heat and add to dissolved yeast. Combine flour, whisking constantly, a little at a time until completely combined (about 3 to 5 minutes).
- Cover batter with plastic wrap and let rise at least 3 hours (or overnight) at room temperature.
- When you’re ready to make the waffles, remove batter from fridge. Pre-heat fryer to 350 to 355°F for the wings, and the oven at 250°F to keep the waffles warm (unless you plan to serve them as you make ‘em).
- Separate eggs and reserve whites. Add baking soda to yolks, beat, then gently fold into batter.
- Prepare Buffalo Wing Sauce, Old- School Buffalo Wings, and Blue Cheese Dressing.
- Heat the waffle iron and melt remaining ¼ cup butter.
- Add cream of tartar to whites, and, using a hand mixer, stand mixer, or good old- fashioned human arm mixer, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter to thoroughly combine. Try to maintain as much height as possible to the batter.
- Using a brush or paper towel dipped in butter, coat the iron’s griddles. Ladle ½ to ¾ cup batter per waffle into the iron. Remember, it’ll spread! So, for the first one, start with just ½ cup until you know how much you’ll really need. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions, until both sides are just more than slightly golden brown and no longer stick to the iron (about 3 to 6 minutes).
- Repeat until all the waffles and wings are made (storing them in the preheated oven), or until you can’t hold off the mob at the gates.
- Serve waffle topped with six wings, a drizzle of Blue Cheese Dressing and Buffalo Wing Sauce, or sides of both.
Sweet and savory: Some people like their savory with a little sweet, especially when it comes to fried chicken and waffles. Consider holding the blue cheese dressing and serving the waffles with butter and some maple syrup mixed with Frank’s RedHot sauce (figure on about one part Frank’s to three parts syrup).
Buffalo wing sauce
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- ½ cup Frank’s RedHot Sauce
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar (optional)
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium- low heat. Don’t brown it!
- Add hot sauce and optional vinegar. Whisk until well combined.
Old-school Buffalo wings
- 1 cup Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
- 2 celery stalks, sliced into sticks
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks, or 24 baby carrots (6 per wing batch)
- 2 dozen chicken wings cut into flats and drumettes (about 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Enough peanut oil to submerge wings (8 to 10 cups)
- 2 cups Buffalo Wing Sauce, warmed
- Prepare Blue Cheese Dressing, celery, and carrot sticks.
- If not already done, cut off wingtips, and cut wing and drumstick at the joint. Dry wings thoroughly. Season wings with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil until it reaches 350 to 355°F. As the oil warms, prepare Buffalo Wing Sauce.
- In batches of six, cook wings 16 minutes, gently lowering them into the oil and jostling the basket occasionally (or poking with a dry wooden spoon). Check the wings at the 12- minute mark. When wings are golden brown, drain, remove, and dry 1 minute on a tray lined with paper towels.
- Wait a moment for the oil to regain temperature. Toss the batch of fried wings into a large bowl, drizzle ½ cup sauce over them, and toss in the bowl until completely covered. Serve on a large, warm plate and pour some of the remaining sauce used to coat them in the bowl to cover. Serve with Blue Cheese Dressing, and celery and carrot sticks.
- Repeat process, frying, drying, and saucing until remaining batches are cooked.
Homemade blue cheese dressing
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup buttermilk dressing
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 teaspoon onion, pressed
- 4 ounces soft Gorgonzola (or your favorite blue cheese), crumbled
- 2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Pinch of white pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl (or food processor), reserving half the blue cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Crumble in the remaining blue cheese in small nuggets. Stir well. Chill for 1 hour if possible.