Chicken wings are either a great dish, a great piece of marketing, or a bit of both. How a part of the bird with so little meat became such a staple in bars, restaurants and home kitchens remains mysterious, but wings are here to stay and cooks are always trying to perfect the process. They try different types of oil for frying, different temperatures, different coatings, and even different pre-frying steps.
To Boil or Not to Boil
The question of whether chicken wings should be boiled before frying is a matter that's completely up to the cook. There is no written law saying they should be, and many recipes don't include boiling, but there can also be an argument made in favor of parboiling your wings. Basically, parboiling refers to boiling the wings in water until they are partially cooked, but not cooked all the way through. Most wings can go for about 15 minutes in simmering water before you remove them. At this stage, you let them dry, add the coating or batter of your choice, and drop them into the fryer. Since they are already partially cooked, the frying time is less and you can ensure a crispy chicken wing that is cooked through.
Rise to Prominence
The chicken wing began its ascent into the public consciousness in 1964 at a bar in Buffalo, NY, called Anchor Bar, according to Le Cordon Bleu website. The owner of the bar created a snack for her son that was basically broiled chicken wings with a coating of homemade hot sauce, with celery and blue cheese on the side. The snack caught on, becoming a menu item at Anchor Bar. By the 1980s the "Buffalo Wing" was on many menus and was a household name.
Whether you choose to boil your wings before sending them to the fryer or not, it is always important to maintain a "safety first" kind of mentality when making this dish. You are dealing with hot oil, so guard against splashing it around. Get your oil to the proper temperature laid out in your recipe before frying, and allow it to return to that temperature between batches. Also, even though wings are small, the meat can't be pink and the minimum internal temperature of chicken must be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chicken Wing Variations
There are many different variations of the standard fried chicken wings that are served in bars, restaurants and home kitchens. The Buffalo Wing may be the gold standard, but super spicy, honey garlic, Thai-inspired, Korean and honey mustard are other flavors. Boneless "wings" that are actually breast meat, and wings that are baked instead of fried are other variations on the original.
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