Adapting Buffalo Wing Sauce

Since the kids are learning to appreciate spicier food, I’ve been working on a recipe for a Buffalo wing sauce that that avoids dairy for the two people in our family who can’t eat it.

I’d never claim that a recipe is complete or balanced or ideal, but I’ve found something interesting. Butter blends better with Buffalo wing sauces, but since we can’t use it, I’ve found that bacon grease makes a good sauce even if the results take the meal in a slightly different direction compared for “normal” buffalo wing sauce. But recipe orthodoxy is not for me. I prefer the simplicity of a meal that makes good use of the sorts of ingredients we already have on hand.

This is not a recipe blog, so no drawn out chatter and no endless scrolling through pictures of each grain of salt photographed as it falls… Here’s how I’ve been preparing it:

  1. Bake chicken wings on a rack above a catch pan after rubbing with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 400 degrees for 40 minutes or so. A little longer may not hurt, just as long as you aren’t burning the skin. Some meats are best rare, but chicken wings and drumsticks are ideal if the internal temperatures get up into the 180’s or 190’s.
  2. While wings are baking, fry up 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 heaping tablespoons of bacon grease. About 3 minutes is enough; stop when the garlic bits are getting darker, but don’t let them blacken. I prefer not to chop the garlic too small since I enjoy munching into garlic bits in the sauce.
  3. After the garlic is finished frying, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of dry sage, and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of hot sauce (I’m using the original Frank’s Red Hot sauce, but there are many different option here). Keep the mixture warm until ready to serve.
  4. Before serving, pour the sauce over the chicken wings in a bowl and toss. Because we’re using bacon grease instead of butter, it congeals more noticeably than a butter-based sauce, so it helps to keep the sauce warm while during the meal. I place extra wings and sauce in the still-warm oven while we’re eating our first serving, so when we go back for seconds (and thirds) everything remains hot.

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