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Sous Vide: Spicy Wings!

Avoiding the disappointing extremes between dried out meat and not quite done at the bone is made easy by sous vide processing.


Chicken wings, tips removed and separated at the joint, 8 pieces.
Kosher salt, 1 Teaspoon.
Flour, 0.5 cups/75 g (optional).

Shortening for frying, minimum 1 cup/200 ml.

Celery sticks, 3 each.
Carrot sticks, 3 each.
Iceberg lettuce, shredded, 1 oz/30 g.
Parsley, chopped, a few tablespoons.
Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing, as needed, 2 oz/60 g.

Butter, cold, 1 oz/30 g.

Sauce recipe:

Note: Proprietary sauces for spicy wings, Buffalo wings and all the other incarnations are readily available. I offer a recipe that I developed myself:

Cayenne pepper, 1 Tablespoon.
Anchovies, one can, 2 oz/56 g.
White wine, 1 cup/200 ml.
White vinegar, 1 cup/200 ml.
Water, 1 cup/200 ml.
Salt, 2 Tablespoons.
Sugar, 2 Tablespoons.
Garlic, 2 heads, peeled.
Worcestershire sauce, 2 oz/50 ml.
Ketchup, 1 oz/32 g.

Equipment requirements

Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags or Ziploc freezer bags (Foodsaver, etc.)
Channel or chamber vacuum device–unnecessary if you use Ziploc freezer bags.
Generic counter top blender.
High sided sauce pot or home deep fryer.

Serves 1
Level of difficulty 2.25


Preheat the sous vide bath to
140 F/60 C

Stage the chicken wings in single layers into dedicated vacuum bags. If you want to use manually sealing plastic bags (like Ziploc freezer bags), remove the air using the water displacement method.

Process the wings for a minimum of 3 hours.

This process will pasteurize and preserve the chicken. Let sous vide work for you! The chicken may be held in the bath at that temperature for up to 8 hours without any detectable difference in quality or wholesomeness.

Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients in a blender and process until completely smooth. Refrigerate.

After the time has elapsed remove the bags of chicken from the bath and submerge in iced/tap water until they achieve 70 F/21 C–about half an hour. Refrigerate to 40 F/4 C–this is necessary to assure food safety. As long as the bags are not opened, the chicken can be kept in this state for at least a week.

To finish, dip the packages of wings in hot tap water to dissolve the gel inside the bag. Remove the wings, drain, and pat dry. Put the wings in a plastic bag or other suitable container and sprinkle with the salt, and toss in the flour if desired. Shake off excess.

Preheat oven to 170 F/77 C

Heat the oil in the sauce pan to 315 F/158 C. There should be enough oil to fully submerge the wings, but the oil should be no deeper than half the height of the pan. It is not necessary to fry all the wings at once. Carefully lower the wings one at a time into the oil and fry until they achieve the desired color. Remove the wings with tongs and lay on the sheet pan. Keep warm in the oven until all the wings are done.

Heat 2 oz/50 ml of the sauce in a skillet (or the microwave). When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and add the cold butter. Stir until it is dissolved and you will notice that the sauce is slightly thickened.

At this point, many practitioners toss the wings in the sauce–that is the original service model. Some prefer to serve the sauce on the side so that the diner can control the spiciness. We show both ways!

Above: WITH flour, sauce on the side. Very crisp, yet very juicy/

Above: WITHOUT flour, tossed with the sauce. Even crispier, moderately juicy. More beer!

Flour, sauce on the side above.

Above: WITHOUT flour, WITH sauce.

Above–Ranch dressing, spicy sauce “Sunrise.” Fill the cup half way with the Ranch dressing, and carefully pour the sauce on top–the Ranch will slowly drift to the top!


Norm King



Nothing can be simpler in concept than the so-called "Buffalo Wings" made popular in a local New York tavern. Multiple versions have appeared on the horizon over the years. Some are lightly breaded, some are not. The flavor/texture profile remains the same--crispy, spicy protein served with refreshing crudites and cool Ranch dressing.

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