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Don’t Fear the Flapper

February 12, 2013

Last night I was up later than expected finishing up a story for All Over Albany. Given my new bedtime, that means I had to go to sleep before writing today’s post. So today we’re trying something new.


Please forgive their graininess, but these were taken in The Ruck and it’s dark in there. But despite the poor quality of the following pictures, I feel that photos are needed for this simple yet important lesson. Far too often I have seen people avoid the flat part of the wing in favor for the drumette because they just don’t know how to tackle the parallel bones that run through it.

Let’s face it, the flat is the better of the two wing segments. Not only does it have a greater ratio of skin to meat, but the meat is more succulent and tender. But if you are one of those people who has tried to remove the meat trapped between the two bones with your tongue or engaged in a vain attempt to suck it out with your lips, this technique should be illuminating.

And if you have already mastered the flat, then perhaps you will consider passing this along to someone who you know that hasn’t quite yet figured it out.

It begins with orienting the flat. This is especially important if the wing tip is removed, because the two bones that run through this piece are not equal. One is small and frail, while the other is a monster. And as we are going to remove the small bone in three bites, it’s important to put it front and center.

So find the more curved side of the flat and point it in the direction of your mouth. Like this:

Meet the flat
Now bite into that beauty, to reveal the smaller of the two bones. It’s always on the curved side. If you have already made an error, don’t worry, you can still proceed. Just be aware that bone removal will be a little bit trickier.

First bite
Bite two takes a little bit of practice and is really the only tricky part of the process. Remember this, bone isn’t attached by bone. Bone is attached by soft delicious cartilage. Now you don’t have to eat the cartilage, but it’s easier to bite through than you might think.

Following the line of the revealed bone, bite through the wing at the right end of the flat, releasing the bone from one side and sucking off the meat and skin.

Release the bone

If you’ve made it this far, the rest is merely a technicality. If you don’t mind using your hands, you can simply twist the loose top bone and pluck it from the wing. Or if your hands are a bit slippery from fat and Buffalo sauce you can use your teeth. Regardless, you are moments away from having some of the best chicken on the wing, surrounded still by plenty of crisp skin and peppery sauce.


You know, I shouldn’t be spreading this around. There are some joints where you can request an entire order of flats. But that’s only possible because most people have an irrational love for the drumettes. If love for the flat blossoms, then these special orders may be harder to come by.

Good luck. I envy those of you who get to go out there and practice. Wings still aren’t on my diet until March. But I hope this helps at least some of you to extend the joy that chicken wings can bring to life.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2013 11:14 am

    Good tips! I may have to try it out next time I’m at the Ruck (the only place we get wings.) Gotta say, I’m a drumette girl and unlikely to switch, but here’s the thing: my partner prefers the flats. With this arrangement, sharing an order of wings is an exercise in marital harmony. I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue were one of us to switch.

    Just one request – next time, can you give us just one nice close-up of the Ruck blue cheese that I can see hanging out in the back of the frame, teasingly out of focus? It would be much appreciated.

  2. Kathryn permalink
    February 12, 2013 11:18 am

    This post is perfectly timed, as I plan on visiting the Ruck for some wings (and beer of course) this Thursday. Thanks for the tip!

  3. February 12, 2013 11:44 am

    I never thought I would see a tutorial on how to eat a chicken wing….

  4. February 12, 2013 11:54 am

    Nope, this is the preferred method –

    • February 12, 2013 12:06 pm

      WARNING! The link above will lead you to a video of someone eating “pastrami wings” dipped in Russian dressing. Damn my eyes!

      That said the technique detailed requires the use of your fingers. I don’t know how Mr. Dave eats wings, and I’m staring to have my doubts about him, but my fingers are a greasy mess.

      Maybe I could execute this on the first wing, but subsequent ones would be doubtful. Also it only works of the wings are perfectly cooked. My method works on inferior wings too.

      Not that you should be eating inferior wings, but I’m trying to be a realist.

      • February 12, 2013 12:29 pm

        I actually use a method more akin to what you describe. I was just posting an opposing tutorial to rustle your jimmies.

  5. -R. permalink
    February 12, 2013 12:37 pm

    Mr. Dave, uh, Russian dressing?!?! Pure defilement.

    Personally, I eat the drumettes first (as the free non-greasy hand can still easily operate the necessarily ubiquitous pint of beer), followed by the delicious flats. My flat method is quite similar to the profussor’s, and I definitely go in with two hands. As with most things in life, I tend to save the best for last.

  6. enough already! permalink
    February 12, 2013 12:59 pm

    Always go for the flat, two-boned part…tender and yummy. Same for the tentacles of calamari. Hmmm. How about a calamari contest, profussor?

  7. February 12, 2013 1:13 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot. I am likewise a flat fan. But if you get ahold of some bad chicken wings, the flats have the greater potential to be bad. Nothing worse than an under-fried flat with that big piece of skin rendered flaccid and gummy.

    • Bob W. permalink
      February 12, 2013 4:36 pm

      Once again, Mr. Dave speaks the truth.

  8. Josh K. permalink
    February 12, 2013 6:32 pm

    A lifetime poultry puller and former Buffalo resident.

    Flats=Better Taste. Truth.

    However it still has to be said that

    Drums=Less messy being easier to eat and dip.

    I like a perfect 50/50 ration of flats/drumettes

  9. February 12, 2013 9:25 pm

    C is with you on the flats. I agree, they are the better part of the wing. However, there is something texturally pleasing to me about the drumstick. I can’t put my finger on why I like them more. Maybe because I feel more like a carnivore ripping into a drumstick. It’s satisfying in a way I have difficulty describing. I realize it is folly.

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