As promised, I’m sharing the results of yesterday’s taste test of Oven-Baked Buffalo Wings. All were cooked in a 400 degree oven for 50 minutes and sauced with Frank’s recipe for a butter/hot sauce combo, so the variation is in what happened before the wings hit the heat. Here are the judges’ preferences, from worst to best.
- Alton Brown style steamed wings. The steaming takes out a lot of the fat, which is maybe why some people appreciated this method. But we like fat, so this was a big dud.
- Brined. I thought the brine might seal in the juices and make for a moister wing, and it did. But one of our three tasters scored this a zero (for the texture? Or extra salt from the brine? She wouldn’t say, just that it was trashcan material) thus knocking it out of the running.
- Hooters-style with the wings dredged in flour, then dipped. The extra layer added complexity, which I appreciated. But other tasters wanted to get right to the meat.
- Just plain wings, straight out of the package. Everybody loved these, maybe because there was nothing not to like.
And, the winner….
- Plain wings, dipped in sauce just before cooking. The sauce caramelized and created some nice pockets of flavor here and there, putting these over the top. But the difference vs. just plain wings was subtle. Both scored far higher than the other three contenders.
Are you surprised? I was. On the other hand all the preps except steamed tasted pretty good to me, which is what I’ve found in two previous Buffalo wing judgings. It’s just hard to mess up wings, unless you over or under cook or go cheap on the sauce or, god forbid, use meat that is past its prime. Maybe I would appreciate the subtle variations more if I was a native New Yorker; I can imagine a Northerner saying that all brisket tastes the same, absurd though that statement is.
Anyway, isn’t it nice that the best prep is also one of the easiest? The recipe, if you need it, is here. Enjoy the game… Go Cowboys! What? You say they’re not playing? Okay, then forget it.