Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Stickiest Wings

I have to credit the writing when I read a cookbook and am easily convinced that I need to bake each and every savory pie mentioned. Nigel Slater’s writing draws me in every time. Reading about the Pillow Pie filled with smoked mackerel, the pastry-topped Chicken and Leek Pie, the Potato-topped Pie, and the big pie for a winter’s day had me looking forward to chilly weather and pulling a piping-hot savory pie from the oven. This and so much more is found in his latest: A Cook’s Book of which I received a review copy. I should mention his writing about sweet tarts had the same effect. I’m still thinking about the Ricotta Orange Tart that might be topped with blood orange segments. Apparently, I was also smitten with the lentil recipes. I marked the pages for Baked Pumpkin, Burrata, and Lentils; Baked Spicy Lentils and Sweet Potatoes; and I’ve already made the Salad of Lentils and Red Peppers. This new book is a collection of Slater’s recipes that have “stood the test of time” and that he makes more than any others. Several have been published before but may include some updates, and there are new dishes too. There are recipes and there is writing, and both are happily consumed. The writing about chicken and making stock and roasting chickens and accompanying potatoes and pan sauces and how well marsala goes with dairy in a sauce results in a strong need to plan a meal of chicken.Then, there are several other suggestions for chicken like with lemon and basil or grilled with za’atar and tahini for instance. After reading about the soup, bread, greens, chicken dishes, dinners, feasts, pies, puddings, cakes, and tea time, I was sad to approach the end, and that made the “Just one more bite before I go” page all the better. It’s a quick description of a midnight snack and a delightful conclusion to the book. But, back to that chicken chapter, it was the Stickiest Wings that I ended up trying first. 

The recipe is preceded by an ode of sorts to the combination of chile spice and sticky sauce on roasted chicken wings. The stickier the better for the heat of the chile to stay on your lips as you devour the wings. First, a marinade was made of minced garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and chiles, and oil, soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, and honey were added. My lemongrass in my herb garden was doing great, and I was happy to use to use it here. I was also happy to bring home wings from locally, humanely, and pasture-raised chickens. The wings were left in the marinade in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before being transferred to a baking dish. The wings and sauce roasted in the oven for 25 minutes before being turned. They continued roasting for another 20 minutes or so. They should become caramelized and well-browned. 

As the wings roasted, it was not at all evident that the sauce would turn into the “stickiest.” But, after the wings came out of the oven and sat for a few minutes, the stickiness revealed itself nicely. It’s as messy to eat as it is tasty. I recommend having something pickley to go with it, and Slater helpfully suggest “you’ll need something with which to wipe your fingers.” I’m definitely not looking forward to any winter weather extremes this season, but when a big cold front comes our way I have lots of meal ideas for staying warm. Happy Holidays!

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