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Celebrating the chicken wing
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Celebrating the chicken wing

National Chicken Wing Day

A basket of traditional chicken wings at Beef 'O' Brady's. National Chicken Wing Day is July 29.

With an ever-evolving selection of flavors, chicken wing fans can pretty much have their pick of this finger-licking food just in time for National Chicken Wing Day.

Since the 1970s, July 29 has been the date to celebrate the hand-held food, and most people are still likely to go for the traditional Buffalo-style wing as their top choice.

“The traditional hot wing is still the most popular,” said Trey Mobley, owner of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Dothan. “With all the new sauces and all the new dry rubs, just the traditional hot, Buffalo-style wing is still the most popular.”

According to the National Chicken Wing Day website (yes, it exists — nationalchickenwingday.com), Buffalo, New York, lays claim to the deep-fried chicken wing, which is why they are often called Buffalo wings. In 1964, a local bar owner wanted a fast and easy dish for her son and his college friends to enjoy as a late-night snack. She deep-fried some chicken wings — typically used for soup stock up at that point in time — and tossed them in butter and hot sauce. The simple recipe was such a hit with customers that other restaurants began selling them. The rest is history.

In 1977, the mayor of Buffalo declared July 29 as National Chicken Wing Day.

At Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Mobley said chicken wings are the restaurant’s top-selling category of food and the 10-piece wing meal is their top-selling individual food on the menu. Mobley said flavors like honey barbecue and teriyaki are preferred for those who want a sweeter flavor, but the restaurant’s offerings of dry rubs — lemon pepper, blackening, and Nashville Hot — have increased in popularity, as have sweet-heat flavors like Sweet Thai Chili.

Mobley, who does not use breading, said crispy skin is the key to a good wing.

“When you’re cooking wings, the best thing to do is to make sure you get them crispy to get a good restaurant-quality wing,” he said. “If you think they’re done in eight minutes, cooking them about 12 minutes will give them that good crispy skin on the outside and make them closer to what we’re able to do in the restaurant.”

Mobley said home cooks should check their wings every so often to make sure they’re separated and can crisp all over. It’s a good habit whether you are deep frying or using another cooking method.

“At home, I’ve started using my air fryer at my house to cook wings,” he said. “I’ll take some wings and put them in the air fryer, cook them for about 21 minutes on 390 setting. They’re really good. They’re not as good as deep-fried, but they get really close — the skin gets real crispy. The trick to that is making sure about every five minutes you pause the air fryer, pull them out and turn the wings so they get crispy all the way.”

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