The Super Bowl is coming, and that means (note: The following fact may not be strictly true) the average viewer will eat more than his own weight in chicken wings during the game.

Chili will also be served, no doubt, and more nachos than are good for anybody. But during the Super Bowl, wings are king.

Which is kind of odd, because wings used to be an afterthought. They were the cheapest and least desirable part of the chicken. When used for anything, they were most commonly used to make soup.

But that all changed on March 4, 1964. Late that night, friends of bartender Dominic Bellissimo came to visit him at the Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y. They were hungry, so Bellissimo asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare a snack. Teressa Bellissimo — one of the great unsung heroes in American gastronomy — deep-fried some wings and coated them with a sauce that was as tangy as it was spicy.

Thus was the Buffalo wing born, and with it a revolution in American snacking. Can it be mere coincidence that the first Super Bowl was played less than three years later?

The Anchor Bar is now so famous that it has opened franchises in more than a dozen cities in the U.S. and Canada. These establishments offer their wings not only in their original flavor (in varying degrees of heat) but also in such variations as honey garlic, sweet and sour, garlic Parmesan and chipotle barbecue.

So I decided to follow the Anchor Bar’s lead. Not only would I make their original wings, but I would also branch out into different flavor combinations. And not only would I fry some of them, but I would also try to save a few calories by baking the others.

The secret to getting a crispy skin in oven-baked wings is to dry out the skin. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, who is nearly as seminal a figure in American cooking as Teressa Bellissimo, developed the perfect method for doing this. After you pat the wings dry with paper towels, toss them in an equal mixture of baking powder and salt, and let them air dry overnight or longer in the refrigerator.

The results were very good — light and moist, with a satisfying crunch to their skin.

As for the sauces, the Anchor Bar unfortunately keeps their ultra-secret recipe close to their chest, but basically everybody knows it is just an equal mixture of Frank’s RedHot Sauce and butter. The people who make Frank’s RedHot claim the proper ratio is three parts of their sauce to two parts of butter, but they just may be trying to sell more of their sauce.

I made the recipe with the 1:1 ratio, and it was spectacular, of course. Frankly, something that tastes this good should be harder to make. It was better when paired with fried wings than crisply baked wings because, you know, they were fried. But the baked wings were excellent, too.

I next tried grilling a batch of wings, just to see if it could be done. It definitely could be done. I used Asian-inspired flavors for these — sesame oil, ground ginger and green onion — along with barbecue sauce and that same Buffalo sauce. The recipe also calls for an extraordinary amount of cayenne pepper, but the wings did not turn out as spicy as I had feared. They were zesty and robust, with a hint of smoke from the grill.

Maple syrup and hot sauce made my next batch sweet and spicy, and a light sprinkling of cardamom gave them a touch of the exotic. If you don’t have cardamom, don’t worry. The spicy sweetness is deliciously remarkable on its own.

That is the same theory behind my next batch, Honey BBQ Baked Chicken Wings. The sauce for these is mild but still noticeably sweet from the honey, rounding out the spice from a rub that is applied before they are cooked. It is the balance that is important here: The wings are moderately sweet, moderately spicy and entirely delicious.

My next batch — I made a lot of batches — started out attempting to create the flavor of chicken fajitas, but they ended up tasting like lemon pepper. That’s OK, because I like lemon pepper. So I decided to think of them as lemon pepper wings instead of fajita wings, and ended up with wings to brag about. I just don’t understand why, if they are marinated in lime juice, they taste so lemony.

My final batch of wings was the favorite of many of our taste testers, and not just because they were dry. Epic Dry-Rubbed Baked Chicken Wings have a pleasingly complex array of flavors. They require 14 spices, but these are harmoniously blended, so that you get the sensation of the combination rather than any one overpowering flavor.

They are so satisfying, you’ll be happy even if the wrong team wins.

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LEMON PEPPER WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds chicken wings

1/2 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1. Cut wings into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), discarding tips. Place wings in a gallon-size resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add remaining ingredients; seal bag. Turn bag to coat wings. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, but no more than 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drain wings, reserving marinade. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet, and put wings on the wire rack. Cook until done, 35 to 45 minutes, brushing occasionally with reserved marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Serve warm.

Per serving: 336 calories; 24 g fat; 9 g saturated fat; 168 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no fiber; 322 mg sodium; 27 mg calcium

Adapted from a recipe from Betty Crocker

TRADITIONAL BAKED BUFFALO WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 teaspoons baking powder, optional

2 teaspoons kosher salt, optional

2 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), tips discarded

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup Franks RedHot Sauce, original flavor

1. For best results, combine baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Carefully dry wing pieces with paper towels, and toss in mixture until thoroughly and evenly coated. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack inside. Place wing pieces on rack, leaving a slight space between each wing. Place baking sheet in refrigerator and allow to rest, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you skipped step No. 1, dry wings with paper towels and place on a wire rack over a foil-covered, rimmed baking sheet, leaving a little space between each wing. Cook 20 minutes, flip wings and continue to cook until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes longer, flipping a few more times toward the end.

3. Meanwhile, combine butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking until combined. Transfer wings to a large bowl, add sauce and toss to thoroughly coat. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing and celery sticks.

Per serving (includes optional salt): 359 calories; 27 g fat; 10 g saturated fat; 60 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no fiber; 1,018 mg sodium; 92 mg calcium

Adapted from a Serious Eats recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

SPICY SESAME CHICKEN WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds chicken wings

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce

1 green onion, sliced

1. Cut wings into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), discarding tips. Mix together sesame oil, cayenne and ginger and pour over wings, stirring to coat evenly. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes (refrigeration is not necessary for 30 minutes).

2. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill wings 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush both sides of wings with sauce and continue grilling 4 to 5 more minutes or until wings are done, turning and brushing frequently with remaining sauce.

3. Sprinkle with sliced green onion to serve.

Per serving: 420 calories; 29 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 168 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 12 g carbohydrate; 9 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 618 mg sodium; 22 mg calcium

Adapted from a recipe by Kraft Foods

TRADITIONAL FRIED BUFFALO WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds chicken wings

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup Franks RedHot Sauce, original flavor

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Oil for frying

1. Cut wings into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), discarding tips. In a small saucepan, melt butter together with hot sauce, and stir until incorporated.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt and pepper. Lightly dredge wings through flour. In a large pot, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry wings in batches at about 325 degrees, turning once, until golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve coated in Buffalo sauce, with blue cheese or ranch dressing and celery sticks on the side.

Per serving: 551 calories; 45 g fat; 25 g saturated fat; 188 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 8 g carbohydrate; no sugar; 1 g fiber; 822 mg sodium; 9 mg calcium

BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

Yield: 10 servings

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup sour cream

3 ounces crumbled blue cheese, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a food processor or blender, add mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, 11/2 ounces of the blue cheese, garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt. Process or blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining 11/2 ounces of blue cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Per serving: 121 calories; 12 g fat; 4 g saturated fat; 15 mg cholesterol; 2 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; no fiber; 234 mg sodium; 60 mg calcium

Adapted from the Chunky Chef

HONEY BBQ BAKED CHICKEN WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), tips discarded

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Mix together salt, 1 teaspoon of the garlic powder, paprika and cayenne. Dry wing pieces on paper towels, and sprinkle generously with spice mix. Place on wire rack, leaving a little space between each one. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, turning once.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining barbecue sauce, honey, ketchup, hot sauce and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

3. After wings have baked 30 to 35 minutes, brush both sides with sauce. Reserve remaining sauce for future use. Continue baking an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until done.

Per serving: 479 calories; 20 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 168 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 48 g carbohydrate; 43 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 985 mg sodium; 26 mg calcium

Adapted from Hip2Save

EPIC DRY-RUBBED BAKED CHICKEN WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds chicken wings

1/2 tablespoon ancho chile pepper or chipotle chili pepper

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon light brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried ground thyme

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack in it. Cut wings into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), discarding tips. In a small bowl, combine ancho chile pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, mustard, pepper, oregano and thyme.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine wing pieces and oil, stirring with a spatula to coat wings evenly. Sprinkle in about 1/3 of the spice mixture, reserving the rest for future use. Toss to coat wings evenly. Place wings on prepared baking sheet and bake until done, about 35 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally.

Per serving: 321 calories; 22 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 168 mg cholesterol; 60 g protein; 2 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 618 mg sodium; 27 mg calcium

Adapted from the Chunky Chef

MAPLE HOT WINGS

Yield: 6 servings

2 teaspoons baking powder, optional

2 teaspoons kosher salt, optional

2 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes (the thicker, first joint) and flats (the thinner, second joint), tips discarded

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1/3 cup hot sauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional

1/2 scallion, chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1. If you have time, combine baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Carefully dry wing pieces with paper towels, and toss in mixture until thoroughly and evenly coated. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack inside. Place wing pieces on rack, leaving a slight space between each wing. Place baking sheet in refrigerator and allow to rest, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If you skipped step No. 1, dry wings with paper towels and place on a wire rack over a foil-covered, rimmed baking sheet, leaving a little space between each wing. Cook 20 minutes, flip wings and continue to cook until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes longer, flipping a few more times toward the end.

3. Meanwhile, combine butter, hot sauce, maple syrup and cardamom (if using) in a bowl and mash up the butter with a fork. Don’t worry if the butter leaves chunks; it will melt when you add the hot wings.

4. When the wings are fully brown and crisp, place them in the bowl with sauce, stirring until coated. To serve, sprinkle with scallions and cilantro.

Per serving (includes optional salt): 423 calories; 29 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 193 mg cholesterol; 27 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 11 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 1,103 mg sodium; 112 mg calcium

Adapted from recipes by Runamok Maple and Serious Eats

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