Chicken Wings

Would you like one?
Would you like one?

A miracle occurred today, right next door in the butcher shop.

There, Stéphane Coutard spends his days finding out exactly what his customers want, trimming it to perfection, then dispensing with cooking advice as he wraps  and weighs what they’ve chosen.

Today, our discussion turned to chicken wings. They’re my favorite part of the chicken, and it’s impossible to buy them here.  To get a wing, you have to buy a bird.  I was asking if he ever had wings and he got a glint in his eye.  “Wait here,” he said.

About to go in....
About to go in….

He returned with a kilo of fat, glistening wings.  He wrapped them, put them in a bag and handed them to me over the counter.  I took out my wallet and he said “Put that away.  I throw wings away – they’re yours to eat.”

I looked at him like he was insane.  “You throw them away?” I asked.

He avowed that he does, but his life is full of more wings than he and his family can eat, so in the “poubelle” the rest of them go.

Or used to.  From this day forward, my life too will be filled with chicken wings. Today was our chicken wing celebration, and I prepared them the way my mother always did, drowned in lemon juice and olive oil, seasoned with garlic and rosemary.

About to come out
About to come out

Next time?  I’ve got my eye on a recipe from Andy Ricker, my friend and the owner of Pok Pok in Portland and Brooklyn.  His new book  Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand offers the recipe and more.  Meanwhile, make my mother’s chicken wings. You’ll be happy, just like we were!

Aftermath (in the bowl as condiment, charred peppers and garlic)
Aftermath (in the bowl as condiment, charred peppers and garlic)

Mom’s Chicken Wings

2 pounds (1kg) chicken wings, wing tips tucked under the drumstick

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup rosemary sprigs

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).

2.  Pour half the olive oil in a heavy baking dish, and set the wings atop it. Sprinkle the wings with the garlic and the rosemary, pour the remaining oil over them, season generously with salt and pepper and using tongs, turn the wings so they are coated with oil and seasonings.

3. Place the wings in the center of the oven and cook until they are golden and crisp, turning them three times during cooking, which will take 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let them sit for about 10 minutes before servings (or your guests will burn their lips).

2 to 4 servings, depending on the eaters…!

 

Charred Peppers with Garlic

 

1 pound (500g) long, thin peppers (corno di toro or sweet Nardello

varieties are  ideal), seeds and pith removed, cut in 1/2-inch (1.5cm) lengths

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Fine sea salt

1.  Place the oil in a medium-sized, heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers, toss so they are coated with oil, season with salt and cook, covered, stirring frequently, until they soften and begin to get black spots, for about 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cover, and continue cooking until the peppers are very dark and the garlic is golden, about 8 additional minutes.  Remove from the heat. If you like your peppers very charred, leave them in the pan until ready to serve, otherwise transfer them immediately to a serving bowl, with all of the oil.

Makes about 1/2 cup charred peppers

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