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“Over-the-Pit” Buffalo wings

Gas-fired “Over-the-Pit” Buffalo wings

Buffalo wing aficionados know, if you want great authentic wings, they can’t be breaded and they must be fried. Doing this at home requires a fryer or committing to a high-sided pot and cleanup. But with a gas-fueled oven, there’s another way, one that taps into a lesser-known wing tradition in Buffalo called wings “from the pit,” “over-the-pit,” “off the pit,” “Bar-B-Que,” or “BBQ.” Think of it as a way locals eat wings. For the uninitiated, this isn’t low-and-slow cooking. The technique (said to have originated at legendary Buffalo pizzeria La Nova) involves par-frying, then grilling before tossing wings in sweet, tangy sauce—a fires of hell-fueled approach for extra flavor (char, bitter, sweet) and texture (crispness and crunch). 

You can mimic this by coating wings in vegetable oil and tossing them onto a pre-heated cast-iron skillet (preferably grooved) in a gas-fired Ooni oven to great effect in a way hard to replicate in a conventional oven even with a broiler finish. They cook quickly (about six minutes) and turn out crisp and charred by the cast-iron and overhead flames. It’s key to use a digital probe (165°F/ 74°C) and to sauce when they’re done (butter-based sauces will break during a full cook with this direct heat). For extra flavor and texture, toss the wings in your sauce of choice and return them to the oven for two minutes before removing, saucing again, and serving. 

This brings us to sauce. Making your own is easy and allows control over spice level (just spike it with a few dashes of whatever super-hot sauce you keep on hand). Authenticity requires Frank’s RedHot, but your favorite hot sauce will likely result in great wings. We’ve included a classic sauce recipe with a legit local way of tricking it out (add garlic and Parmesan) and an optional one for blue cheese dressing (always better homemade) but once you’ve got those down, experiment with multiple saucings while cooking. Abigail’s, a restaurant two hours east of Buffalo in the town of Waterloo, drew acclaim for incorporating wings condiments—celery and blue cheese—into the sauce that coated them, and Elmo’s, one of Buffalo’s highly-regarded wing joints, makes “Cajun Barbecue Wings,” that are fried, sauced, grilled, then dipped in honey or barbecue sauce. Crisp, char, bitter, spicy, sweet… wow!

Equipment
Gas Compatible Ooni Pizza Oven
Cast-iron Cookware (Dual-Sided Grizzler Plate or Cast Iron Grizzler Pan)
Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves (optional)

Yield
Makes 24 wings, 600g (2½ cups) of blue cheese dressing, and 600g (2 cups) of Buffalo sauce (per recipe)

Serves 2-4

Time
Total time: 45 minutes
Prep time: 30 minutes

For blue cheese dressing
38g (⅓ cup) mayonnaise 
75g (⅓ cup) sour cream
75g (⅓ cup) buttermilk dressing
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons white vinegar 
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 teaspoon onion, pressed
113g (4 ounces) soft Gorgonzola (or your favorite blue cheese), crumbled
2 tablespoons chives, minced (optional) 
Pinch of Kosher salt
Pinch of white pepper

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl (or food processor), reserving half the blue cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  2. Crumble in the remaining blue cheese in small nuggets. Stir well. Chill for 1 hour if possible.

For Buffalo sauce
75g (⅔ cup) salted butter, melted
312g (1 cup) Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
2 tablespoon white vinegar (optional)

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Don’t brown it!
  2. Add the hot sauce and the vinegar. Whisk until well combined.

For garlic Parmesan Buffalo sauce
75g (⅔ cup) salted butter, melted
3 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
312g (1 cup) Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoon white vinegar (optional)
50g (1⁄2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Don’t brown it.
  2. Add garlic and warm over low heat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the hot sauce and the vinegar. Whisk until well combined.
  4. Add hot sauce, garlic and onion powders, and vinegar. Whisk until well combined.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer into a large bowl for tossing the wings. Add Parmesan and stir until combined.

For the wings
1 large celery stalk, peeled, cut in thirds lengthwise and cut into finger-length pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in thirds lengthwise and cut into finger-length pieces (optional)
2 dozen chicken wings cut into flats and drumettes (about 2 lb or 1 kg)
132g (⅔ cup) vegetable oil
Pinch of Kosher salt

Method

  1. Place a cast-iron skillet in the oven and turn it to its medium setting. Preheat for 15 minutes (aim for 900°F / 482°C).
  2. Prepare the carrots and celery. If not already done, cut off the wingtips, and cut the wings and drumsticks at the joints. Dry the wings thoroughly.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the wings with vegetable oil until they are completely coated then season with salt.
  4. Using an oven mitt, kitchen towel, or Ooni Pizza Oven Gloves to grasp the hot handle, remove the cast-iron Grizzler Plate or Pan and set it on a heat-resistant surface.
  5. Taking care to avoid oil splatter, use tongs to place the wings on the cast iron, laying them down so they splatter away from you. Place them about an inch apart (12 on the large plate or 6 on the pan) and return the cast iron so it’s just inside the oven.
  6. Cook for 2 minutes then using something to grasp the hot handle, remove to a heat-resistant surface and turn each wing over, swapping the front and back wings.
  7. Cook for another 2 minutes then, taking care to avoid bone, use a digital thermometer. Once they’ve reached 165°F (74°C) remove and toss in a large bowl with at least 100g (⅓ cup) of sauce.
  8. If you’d like more char, replace the wings on the cast iron and return them to the oven for another 30 seconds to 1 minute (optional). Serve with blue cheese dressing and either celery or carrot sticks (or both).
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