Wangs

And not the computer, neither. I know it’s Sunday, but I just discovered a trove of pictures on the camera that I had completely forgot about, and I thought of you, poor readers, frantically anticipating my next post with the impatient fervor of Ree Drummond praying for Paula Deen to stroke out on national television. So I wrote this because I feel your pain.

A perennial favorite in this house, they’re always different yet always adhere to a few basic procedural steps, regardless of the flavor combinations. First, cut into three pieces each—tips reserved for stock—the segments get a toss in seasoned flour. Salt is a given, but some ground spices can find their way in, depending on the geographical inclination of the desired result.

Once floured, I brown the pieces throughly, beginning with the fat side, using a bit of olive oil or butter to get it going. They’ll render off enough fat in time, but they need a little lube to get the party started. Once they’re good and brown, then I dump in The Sauce. The Sauce can vary as widely as your imagination. Remember your imagination? That thing you had before the Internet? Non-negotiable aspects of The Sauce include acid (vinegar, usually, though sometimes citrus) heat (hot sauce of some kind, or powder, or both) sweetness (maple, more often than not) and umami (fish sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, etc.). Stock of some sort is a welcome addition, especially when it complements the other flavors.

The flour in the chicken coating acts as a marvelous thickener for The Sauce, so that as it bubbles gently, mostly covered, for Phase Two of the cooking (a.k.a. The Wettening) the formerly liquid Sauce becomes an unctuous swaddle for the plump nuggets of succulent meat. By the time they’re falling-off-the-bone tender, there should be no extra liquid in the pan. If there is, crank the heat with the lid off for a few minutes, tossing them regularly, until it’s evaporated and everything is thick and luscious. The fold in some fresh greenery (chives, cilantro, etc.) and mound them in your most imposing bowl.

I like to tailor the accoutrements to suit whatever flavors have informed the wings, but in this case they were straight up simple. Pommes écrasées, which kind of lie halfway between potato salad and mashed potatoes, and thus represent an apotheosis of tuberiffic expression, make every plate they appear on more fun to eat. Here’s how to make them:

  1. Steam peeled potatoes. Red or Yukon Gold are nice.
  2. Put them in a bowl.
  3. Add a shitload of olive oil. Seriously, way more than you think you should. And some salt, and maybe some minced chives or like that.
  4. Kind of maul them with a big spoon for a bit to écrase them sufficiently.
  5. Serve.

See? This is a full-service blog.

This version included asparagus, tossed into the steamer for the last few minutes of spud cookery, and a fat handful of selvetica arugula, insouciantly chopped and strewn about with abandon.

Also, one of the world’s great condiments, green mash. This version was made from frisée, mostly, with some of the arugula thrown in for good measure. Garlic, olive oil, salt, vinegar, and a blitz in the Fo-Pro add up to a verdant, bitter counterpoint to fatty meat of all sorts.

Man, did this dinner hit a wide variety of spots. I don’t make wings that often, because if I did I would be morbidly obese; I scarfed down a bunch of leftover wings for breakfast. Spanish, Mexican, and Southeast Asian flavors work particularly well with these, but so do many others: Moroccan, for example, with cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and preserved lemon is wicked. There’s no limit; use the stuff you like. Curry powder and coconut milk for a quick and dirty version. Try it. You’ll thank me later.

Remember, and I say this in all sincerity: experiment. Stretch out a bit and try something new without measuring. The very worst thing that could happen is that you’ll fuck up your dinner.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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