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13 Cent BBQ Wings
Many years ago, when I was a cross-country runner in college on Long Island, our team had a Tuesday tradition: After an especially hard workout, we would go to a place called Big Barry’s in Lake Grove and eat as many buffalo BBQ wings as we possibly could.
Why Tuesday? That was the night when each wing cost only 13 cents.
Now I’ve eaten thousands of Buffalo wings before and since, but none were like Big Barry’s. I swear they had to be either roasted or grilled, because Barry’s wings were crisp and charred and very much not like those nasty, pallid fried things you get in most of the country.
Amazing what a slight difference in cooking method can do for a humble dish.
Why I ate 60 BBQ Wings
I loved these BBQ wings. Loved them. So much so that one day, after an unusually tough workout (and not a few beers), I decided to pick up the gauntlet that Barry’s threw down at every customer who walked in the door: Eat enough wings to get your name on the Plaque of Honor, and your whole table eats free. No problemo, I thought.
Because Barry’s wings were barbecued (or roasted, I was never sure), and they could be ordered with sauce on the side, I had routinely eaten dozens at a sitting. I started with 25 wings, which went down easy. Another few Pabst Blue Ribbons and I was on to my second 25. Again, easy-peasy.
It was the final 25 that got me. Mind you, as a cross country runner I weighed maybe 140 pounds. The last dude who got his name on the plaque was a fireman from Middle Island who was 6’7″ and weighed four bills, easy.
I hit a wall when I got to 60 wings. At the urging of my teammates (screaming, more like, because they didn’t want to pay their bar tab), I managed to choked down another 7 wings before I gave up.
Don’t eat 100 BBQ Wings, but Make Plenty
Did I make it? Not even close, the waitress said, smiling sweetly. “Good try, though, especially since you’re so skinny, but you’d need to eat another 40 wings to get on the board.”
The thought of eating another 40 wings made me want to hurl, so we paid up and left as soon as we could.
This grilled chicken wings recipe is as close to Big Barry’s BBQ wings as I’ve been able to make. They go down real easy, so make more than you think you’ll need. But I’d advise stopping before you hit 100, OK?
Barbecued Buffalo Wings Recipe
We like to make our own BBQ wings sauce, but you could use a store-bought one if you are pressed for time.
In this grilled chicken wings recipe we are using a grill to mimic the low and slow cooking of a barbecue. If the temp is too high, the wings will cook more quickly than indicated here. We are trying to achieve a low cooking temperature so that the wings cook slowly.
- 3 pounds chicken wings
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp or 1 stick) unsalted butter
- 12 Tbsp hot sauce (Crystal, Texas Pete, Tabasco, etc)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
1 Make the sauce: Mix all of the ingredients together in a small pot set over low heat and stir constantly until the butter melts.
Once the butter melts, whisk the sauce vigorously off the heat and set aside. It should remain liquid throughout the cooking process. If it starts to solidify, heat it up just enough to melt it, whisking all the time. You don't want the sauce to boil.
2 Cut whole wings into parts: If you have whole chicken wings, you'll want to cut them into parts. Using a sturdy chef's knife or poultry shears, cut off the wing tips and either discard or reserve (we usually freeze) for making chicken stock.
Use the knife or shears to separate the drumettes from the flats (the mid-joint wings).
3 Grill over low, indirect heat: Toss the wings with the vegetable oil and the salt, and arrange in one layer on the grill set over indirect low heat. If you are using charcoal or wood, it will be very difficult to do this, so set your fire on one side of the grill and arrange the wings on the other side, away from the direct heat.
You want them to cook slowly, with little or no sizzle. Cover the grill and cook like this for 30 minutes.
4 Paint wings with sauce, continue to grill low and slow: Turn the wings and paint with the Buffalo wing sauce. Close the grill and cook for another 30 minutes. Repeat the process, until the wings are done to your liking, this time painting the wings every 15 minutes or so. Make sure you have a little leftover sauce to toss the wings with at the end.
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