Irish I Had Some Wings…

When faced with a culinary challenge, my go plan is to “Irish things up.” I’m not always one hundred percent sure what that means when I start the process, but nine out of 10 times, it involves throwing a splash of whiskey in it.

Interestingly, there were two options for converting what is one of the most all-American foods I can think of to an Irish appetizer. It was a toss up between Guinness wings and whiskey wings. For me, no contest.

One of my fondest memories from a recent trip to Ireland was a visit to Tullamore, home of Tullamore DEW whiskey. And ancestral home to my friend Jim, husband of Founding Foodie Sarah It was a great adventure capped with a tour and tasting at the distillery.

Following Sarah’s lead from last week, I didn’t want to mess with frying wings in oil, so I opted to bake them. Of course, I was profoundly surprised to find that we didn’t have a wire rack to bake the wings on. But never let it be said that we Foodies aren’t resourceful. I just broke out our turkey pan and strategically lined the wings on that rack.

I only tweaked the recipe a little, mixing some thyme in with the baking powder and salt. I didn’t have the same success Sarah and her dad did, though. But the wings were still great: super juicy and a wee bit crispy.

I based my wing sauce on a recipe found on the New Jersey Local News website. I added a little extra garlic, brown sugar, honey and whiskey… and a little less onion. I probably could have dialed back the red wine vinegar as well. The end result still had a pretty strong vinegar flavor. It always helps to have your favorite foodie whipping up a massive batch of butter chicken on the other side of the kitchen while you’re cooking.

All in all, if you like a vinegar based sauce, it was delicious. The wing preparation itself was a bit unremarkable, as I prefer mine on the crispier side — but something to work toward. It still tasted great. The tartness in the sauce really stood out against the chicken, and Founding Foodie Amy suggested the sauce would be great on pork ribs as well.

 

Tullamore Irish Wings
Based on the recipe found at NJ.com

Wings
1 dozen chicken wings
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons thyme

Sauce
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3 ounces Irish whiskey (I used Tullamore DEW)
2 ounces strong, dark roast coffee, brewed
6 ounces red vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 ounces honey
8 ounces beef stock
10 ounces ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Heat your oven to 250.

Butcher the wings, separating the drumettes and discarding the tips. Pat dry.

Mix baking powder, salt and thyme in a large bowl and toss the wings until they are completely coated. Lay out on a wire rack on a baking sheet. (Lining them up on a turkey rack in a baking pan doesn’t work as well but will do in a pinch.)

Cook the chicken for 30 minutes on the bottom rack. After 30 minutes, crank the heat up to 450 and move the chicken to a higher rack. Bake the wings for another 40 to 50 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, dice the onions and garlic. Cook the onions in a pan in the avocado oil until translucent.

Add the whiskey and bring it to a simmer. Reduce sauce by half. Next, add in the coffee, stock and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer for 30 minutes, until thickened. I used an immersion blender to incorporate some of the onions better into the suace, but left some of it chunky as you can see from the main photo.

Toss the wings in the sauce. Serve as is or with blue cheese or ranch dressing.

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Posted in Dear Diary

On Sundays We Eat Chicken Wings … #NotSad #Winning

I’ve eaten a fair amount of wings lately. They’re a staple when we watch football in my family. And thanks to both the Texans and the Steelers making the playoffs this year we’ve barely not eaten them.

I’m writing this post a little late. For one, we were inspired to pick wings as a monthly topic because of Super Bowl Sunday, but that literally just happened … like tonight. For two, it’s mega late precisely because it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Even though neither of our teams made it to the big game, we have to watch. This year we decided to go to a friend’s place and up our party food game by making wings. We staid for the whole thing, so I’m tired and, since the Monday after the biggest game all year isn’t a holiday, I have to go to work in the morning. I’ll join the other millions of Americans running around in unproductive zombie mode tomorrow.

But it was worth it. That, ladies and gentlemen, was one heck of a game. But we’re not here to talk sports, we’re here to talk noms … specifically of the winged variety!

Confession time … while we can eat our share of wings till the cows (or chickens) come home, we don’t ever make them. Literally I’ve never made wings. We have our favorite places where we get them – Glory Days, Buffalo Wild Wings – but have shied away from making them ourselves. That was until recently when my dad started making them.

Almost every gathering, party or sporting event is an excuse for him to make his oven baked wings. He made them on Christmas Eve and the Steelers playoff games. They’re fast becoming a tradition and they are so super easy they should not be shied away from.

The wings aren’t breaded, they’re simply coated with a baking soda mixture for crispness, which makes them great for my husband who is gluten free. My dad follows a really simple recipe with just baking soda and salt, but we upped our game a bit by throwing in garlic powder, cayenne and black pepper. Depending on how much flavor or heat you want you can adjust this or try other seasonings.

Also, by baking them elevated on a wire rack the heat gets dispersed evenly all around the wings to pack another crispness punch. It all just seems to work, and even though it takes some time waiting for them to cook, they are well worth it. No fryer needed!

You can choose to toss them in sauce or not. We love a good old Buffalo style hot sauce, so we doctored up some Frank’s with butter, garlic powder, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. There was just enough heat … not enough to overpower the flavors but enough to build up after downing a few wings.

Oven Baked Chicken Wings
The recipe is for about one dozen wings, so adjust as needed if making more.

For the wings
1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 garlic powder
1/2 course ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dozen chicken wings

For the sauce
2/3 cup hot sauce
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In large mixing bowl, mix together the baking powder, garlic powder, pepper, cayenne and salt. Toss the wings in the mixture to coat, then place them evenly spaced apart on a wire rack inside or on top of a baking sheet.

Cook the wings for about 30 minutes on 250 degrees, to render the fat. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees and cook another 40 minutes.

For the sauce, in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and add the hot sauce, cayenne, garlic powder and Worcestershire. Pull from heat. In a large mixing bowl toss the wings in the sauce to coat evenly.

 

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Posted in Dear Diary

Sweet Tea: It’s Where I Draw The [Mason-Dixon] Line

When I moved from Michigan to Washington, D.C., more than a decade ago, I never really thought about having moved to the south. Yet here I landed, below the Mason-Dixon line, in a magical land where pit barbecue, grits and pimento cheese are staples. My new home opened up a world of flavors for this northern born-and-raised gal who grew up on rather bland chicken and dumplings.
Now, I am sure many would argue that our nation’s capitol is hardly the south, but I beg to differ based on one thing alone, but more on that in a minute.
I don’t ever remember being offered anything on visits to my grandparents house aside from iced tea. What that meant was sun-brewed Lipton. Cold, bitter… and so refreshing. No lemon. No honey. Just tea.
So shortly after rolling in to the District of Columbia, or maybe even on the way, I made a stop at a drive thru. I ordered a gargantuan iced tea, popping the paper off the straw against the dash, and plunging it into that icy drink, excited for a flood of memories that always seems to accompany a gulp.
 
Then I nearly choked to death.
I couldn’t even swallow it. Talk about gross. What IS this crap, I thought to myself, thinking they’d poured me flat soda. When I drove back around to the window, the cashier, clearly bemused, looked at me as if I’d lost my mind when I claimed the beverage in my glass wasn’t iced tea.
Of course it is, she replied. It’s sweet tea.
What the heck is sweet tea?
Nothing of any use to me, except maybe as a marinade for pork. I didn’t even know that was possible until I started researching what to write for this week’s post. But apparently…
And I have to admit, it was pretty darn good. (That doesn’t mean the South wins this war: I’m still not interested in drinking the stuff.)
Amy’s Sweet Tea-Brined Stuffed Pork Roast
I found inspiration in two recipes for this dish. The first was from Traditional Home, where I found the marinade. I’ve been trying to reduce our refined sugar intake, though we typically stick with coconut sugar. Below you’ll see I’ve swapped white sugar for honey and brown for sucanat, a variety of whole cane sugar that retains it’s molasses content, lending a lovely brown color and a deep, robust flavor. The other recipe from Food Network gave me the idea for the stuffing, but since I didn’t have enough mushrooms (or bacon or parsley, for that matter), I added in a few ingredients of my own, including Sarah’s famous bacon jam. If you don’t feel like whipping that up, revert to adding a few slices of cooked and chopped bacon to the mix. And one more thing: I used pork loin, not tenderloin.
Marinade
2-2.5 pound pork loin
4 cups water
2 packets rooibos tea
3/4 cups honey
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 cup salt
1/8-1/4 cup Worcestershire
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon while peppercorns
Stuffing
8 ounces cremini mushrooms (best laid plans… I only had white)
1 cup packed baby spinach
1.4 cup pine nuts
Method
Heat water to boil and add tea bags. Allow to steep for a few minutes, removing before tea becomes bitter. Add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool completely. Transfer mixture to a glass bowl or plastic bag and add remaining marinade ingredients, including pork loin, and place in refrigerator overnight.
When ready to cook, Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast pine nuts and allow to cool. Chop mushrooms and spinach, adding to a bowl with 1/4 cup of bacon jam or cooked, chopped bacon.
Place pork loin on cutting board on the side and cut evenly down the middle, but not all the way through. Butterfly and place a piece of plastic wrap over the loin, pounding it to about an inch thick. This isn’t easy. I suggest you go watch the news first or read some political articles online so you can be ready to get your aggression out.
Spread mushroom and spinach mixture on the inside (fat outside) of the loin, leaving about an inch on the outside edges free and two inches on one end. Roll the loin tightly from the fully filled edge to the other, truss the loin (this is the easiest method!), and tuck in any loose filling.
Place cooking oil or fat (I used rendered Benton’s Bacon fat, which gave the final dish a nice, smoky flavor) in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Once hot, sear the loin on all sides. We scrubbed and added carrots to the pot, moving the roast, fat side down, on top of it. Cover with the lid askew and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip, uncover, and roast an additional 10-20 minutes, or until an internal thermometer measures 155 degrees. Allow to rest ten minutes tented with foil before slicing and serving.

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Posted in Dear Diary
photo credit to Aaron Otis Photography 2014


December
It's time to make your list and check it twice ... gift giving season is upon us. Let your foodie friends at We The Eaters help with some delicious ideas you can make at home. Your friends and family are sure to be impressed by your mad DIY skills!