The classic Buffalo wing was said to have been invented at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York on October 30, 1964. There are many versions as to how then owner, Teressa Bellissimo, developed with the recipe. As with most wildly popular recipes, nobody remembers the details surrounding the event precisely because they had no idea how significant that brilliant spark of invention would be. Although the exact reason for making the food may have been lost to history, the recipe remains clear. Wings were unbreaded, deep fried and coated with a mixture of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, spices and melted butter. I can’t help but wonder what Frank’s Red Hot was used for prior to Mrs. Bellissimo’s invention.
Another restaurant, Wings and Things, also claims a wing invention, but the recipe used a spicy mambo sauce. It’s common when something becomes popular beyond belief for food purveyors to say they did it first. It doesn’t really matter who came up with the idea that took the chicken wing from the scrap pile and stock pot to fame. Currently, chicken wings have their own special day, October 29th and they are celebrated on restaurant menus around the country. With new sauces and varieties emerging frequently, the humble wing has been elevated to a culinary art form of sorts.
Yet, while interpretations of the original recipe range from really good to addictingly mind blowing, there are some of us that won’t indulge because wings are deep fried, skin on, delicious bundles of fat that are customarily dipped in more fat aka blue cheese dressing. For economic reasons, the oil used in the fryer is most likely to be inexpensive as opposed to healthy, which is also a drawback.
I am aware that wings can be baked or grilled with satisfying results. However, the crispness factor seems to be missing in some of the healthier recipes. I got to thinking about how I could create a wing sautéed in a healthy oil that would leave me with crispy flavorful chicken in my plate. The first idea I had was macadamia nuts. I crushed them in the food processor, sautéed them up in coconut oil to a level of extraordinary crispness. The flavor amazed my picky palate, but unfortunately, the wings softened up once they began to cool down. The macadamias proved to be too moist when pulverized. I was looking for a dryer texture.
Knowing I had a good idea that could eventually be elevated to greatness, I kept the chicken wing recipe on the back burner. That’s when a friend suggested the perfect nut. It was one I doubt I ever would have tried if left to my own preferences. I guess they are right when they say two heads are better than one, because the minute I felt the meal that was created by pulsing the nuts in the food processor, I knew the wings were going to turn out grand. Warm, crunchy, nutty, spicy, tender, meaty; a plethora of flavors and textures bursting happily in my mouth.
I have made them both bone-in and boneless. I must concede, after trying the boneless variety, I found myself searching the platter for more. Of course, some people may prefer the classic variety complete with bones, so I will describe how to make both here.
1 lb. package party wings for bone-in or 1 lb. package boneless skinless thighs for bone-out
1 cup Brazil nuts
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 large bottle Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar
1 stick organic butter, melted (optional, but delicious with it added)
1 egg (optional)
1/4 cup almond milk (optional)
coconut oil for sautéing
bleu cheese dressing, ranch dressing or tzatziki dressing for dipping (as much as desired)
1. Using a food processor, pulverize the Brazil nuts into a rough meal.
2. Place 2 cups of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and 1 stick melted organic butter in a large glass bowl. Add the spices and vinegar and combine thoroughly. Set the bowl near the stove or on a burner that is not being used.
2. Spread the nut meal and tapioca starch onto a stretch of paper towels (I use 4 folded in half) and with your hands. combine the nut meal and tapioca starch.
3. If making boneless “wings”, open a boneless, skinless thigh so it lies flat on the cutting board. Slice 1/2 inch thick strips slightly on the bias (slight diagonal.)
4. If you prefer, beat an egg with the almond milk in a wide shallow bowl. Lightly dip the wings in the egg mixture before rolling in the nut meal and starch. The coating will stick without this step, but will be more even if lightly dipped. If the wings get too wet, the coating will become gummy. That is undesirable.
5. Roll the wings in the nut mixture that is spread on the paper towel until each wing is evenly coated.
6. Heat coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Make sure the oil is hot and will splatter if a drop of water is tossed inside the pan before adding the wings.
7. Let the wings brown on each side until golden, approximately 2-3 minutes per side, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook the wings in batches.
8. As the wings get done, remove them from the skillet with a slotted utensil and let the oil drain before placing in the bowl. Toss the wings around in the sauce and once completely saturated, remove to a serving plate. Continue this step until all the wings are coated.
9. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, celery and carrot sticks, and a beverage that will help kick the heat of the wings off of your tongue.
10. Enjoy the unique flavor of these nutty hot wings. Stock extra napkins, lick your fingers, whatever, but enjoy!!! They are so high on our list of favorites that we made them three times before publishing the recipe. (Cheating!)
Note: As described in the recipe, the wings contain no gluten. Please check the ingredients in the dipping sauce you use if you have a gluten sensitivity.