We have added Buffalo, New York, to our list of cities for Great Lakes Cuisine and included two iconic locations: Anchor Bar and Charlie the Butcher. Anchor Bar is the original creator of Buffalo-style hot wings which is a fairly recent addition (last 50 years) to the regional culinary tradition. As a dish, it doesn’t have very deep roots – closer to in age to Chicago deep dish pizza than many of the culinary traditions we typically feature. The better example of the Great Lakes culinary tradition from Buffalo is Beef on Weck – a roast beef sandwich served on a Kummelweck roll, a hard roll with coarse sea salt and caraway seed on top.
Nevertheless, the Buffalo-style wing is an addictively tasty little morsel. The recent break-down by Epicurious.com of top sources of wings listed three different restaurants from our list – Greenhouse Tavern, Roast, and Anchor Bar. here is how Chef Sawyer from Greenhouse Tavern describes his take:
“First they’re cured for 36 hours in a mix of salt, pepper, sugar, and chili flakes. Then they’re gently cooked in a combination of beef, chicken, and duck fat for 12 hours in an immersion circulator. A slow cooling in the fat further melts the skin and tenderizes the flesh, ensuring moist wings. Then we let the chicken wings air-dry for 24 hours. This allows the skin to get crispy without the flesh getting soggy, leaving a delicious tender juicy wing.”
As always, Chef Sawyer takes it to another level. Incredible. In honor of the Buffalo-style hot wing, we offer our take on a Buffalo Chicken Burger, featuring both a blue cheese spread and a ghost chili pepper dusted cheese, topped with a celery relish – all the elements of the traditional hot wings, typically served with celery sticks and a blue cheese dipping sauce. We use a number of selections from Renard’s Cheese based in Door County, WI, including their remarkable Ghost Chili Jack cheese and we highly recommend ordering these cheeses online, but we have given alternatives below for convenience.
Buffalo-Style Chicken Burger
For the Chicken Burger
2 lbs ground dark meat chicken
1 medium onion diced
1 Tbs. butter
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 large egg
1 Tbs. dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil)
1 cup Blue Cheese Spread from Renard’s Cheese
1 cup blue cheese crumbles blended with
½ cup cream cheese and
½ cup shredded cheddar
For the Celery Relish
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced pickled sweet peppers
½ cup diced pickled onion
8 hamburger buns
Butter for toasted buns
Garlic salt to taste
In a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, melt butter, add onions, and sauté until translucent. Allow to cool and then add to ground chicken in a large bowl. Add corn flakes, herbs, and egg to the bowl and mix with hands until well mixed. Form into burgers return to refrigerator to set at least 30 minutes.
Prepare grill while burgers chill. Blend all ingredients for celery relish. Toast buns, spread with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Set aside.
Place burgers on grill, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes per side, then top with blue cheese spread and sliced cheeses. When cheese has melted, serve on buns, topped with celery relish and lettuce.
We enjoyed our Buffalo-style Chicken Burger with an ice-cold Pilsner from Hinterland Brewing and sweet potato fries. The Pilsner was a perfect complement and very refreshing between bites of the burger. The Ghost Chili Jack cheese creates a slow burn, that builds and builds. You should get your hands on some, and enjoy the heat.