Buffalo wings are barely half a century old, but they are part of the canon of American cuisine.
Reportedly invented in the 1960s at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, by Teressa Bellissimo, the first wings were cut into sections (drumettes and flats), deep-fried sans any sort of breading, tossed with hot sauce and then served with celery and blue cheese dressing. With much respect to the original, here's a slightly modified version with some techniques borrowed from Korean and Japanese fried chicken in a quest for the crispiest skin possible. (As someone who has been making Southern fried chicken all my life, even I have picked up a few pointers.) You could argue that the quest for crispness in a dish that will be coated in a sauce is futile, but anyone who has encountered a flaccid-skinned wing knows that it is not.
It all starts with a starchy coating.
"When cooking them on their own – grilling, frying or roasting – it's important to dehydrate the skin and render the fat so that the skin can become crispy, not soggy," the editors of America's Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby wrote in their "Cook's Science" book. One easy way to do that is with a dusting of potato starch or cornstarch. In a side-by-side comparison of the two, I found the potato starch to produce slightly crunchier results, but you're more likely to already have cornstarch in your pantry and the differences are negligible once the wings are sauced. Either is preferable over wheat flour because it contains gluten, which inhibits the lightness and crispiness you can achieve with these two purer starches.
The second key to extra-crispy fried chicken is a double dip in the fryer. After the initial fry, "moisture in the center of the food migrates to the surface after the food cools and the surface gets soggy again," Angus Chen wrote in NPR. That's why it's important to let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes between dips in the fryer. "Then you boil off that moisture again on the second fry," Chen wrote. The result is crunchy, craggy skin that will hold up much better than chicken that has only been fried once.
Lastly, the wings get tossed in a classic Buffalo sauce of Cajun pepper sauce and butter – or you could experiment with different styles of hot sauce, adding some honey or molasses to balance the heat or seasoning it with your favorite spices or blends to make it your own.
They are best eaten immediately for maximum enjoyment of all the crispness you worked so hard to develop. Then, the only question that remains is your selection of accoutrements: carrots or celery sticks, and blue cheese or ranch dressing?