The Key to a Truly Great Chicken Wing

Americans are a wing-loving people.
The Buffalo variety, by most accounts
“invented” at the Anchor Bar in, yes,
Buffalo, is the official food of our most
sacred event of the year: the Super
And though we are also a grilling
people, wings seldom make the cut for
some reason, being passed over for
burgers, dogs, steaks, fish and meatier
cuts of chicken, even boneless chicken
breasts (which make almost no sense to
grill, where they routinely dry out).
Perhaps we associate wings with frying,
or they seem like too much work for
the amount of meat that they yield. This
is a mistake; the grill is the perfect
place for the wing.
Wings have a higher ratio of skin to
meat than almost any other cut of
chicken, which is what makes them so
appealing. In order to crisp the skin,
you need to render out most of the fat
that comes with it, otherwise you’ll get
chewy wings instead of crunchy ones.
A grill with one side that’s hot and one
side that’s cool — one side with no or
very little fire underneath it — is what
you need: put the wings on the cool
side, cover the grill and let the ovenlike
heat melt the fat away through the
grates without any fear of an intense
flame burning the skin from below.
Because you’re not relying on this part
for any browning, it’s O.K. to crowd
the wings, even stacking them slightly if
need be. The time it takes to render the
fat and cook the wings through is more
than enough to whip up one of the
sauces here (including, you’ll be
relieved to know, Buffalo), few of
which require cooking. Make the sauce
in a bowl large enough to
accommodate the wings so you can toss
them in from the first round on the
Once the wings have been cooked and
are coated in sauce, the final, all-
important crisping stage goes quickly.
Put the wings on the hot part of the grill
now, taking care not to crowd them.
The sauce will brown quickly (and it
will burn if you don’t pay attention),
so turn the wings frequently until the
outsides are caramelized and crisp,
from 5 to 10 minutes.
All told, the process is much less of a
pain than deep-frying, and the results
— tender meat, crunchy skin and a
smoky char — are Super Bowl-worthy.