Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee
The province of chicken wings belongs to the Northeast, not the South. Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, lays stake to the invention of deep-frying wings, claiming owner Teressa Bellissimo made them as a snack for her bartender son, Dominic, and his friends. (The family even nails down the date: March 4, 1964.)
But as with traditional fried chicken,
a fetish for wings spread throughout the country, with sports bars everywhere slinging baskets full of the little suckers, heavily battered, glowing neon orange, and drowning in a sweet or spicy sauce.
I’m a wing skeptic, partly because many restaurants pull this particular protein straight from the freezer before the plunge in bubbling oil, and I shudder to think about the lives of the mass-production chickens from which they were harvested. But I love the version at Buckhead’s King Duke, where the kitchen first smokes the wings (from locally raised birds) before deep-frying them and tossing them in a sticky,
citrusy glaze. And my newest craving: the ruddy, messy wings doused with sweet chile sauce at Sobban, the recently opened “Korean Southern diner” from the Heirloom Market BBQ team.
This article originally appeared in our January 2014 issue.