Default Wings: DIY

Wings are such a quick, easy, and often very cheap way to make everyone happy. They’re frequently labeled at the butcher counter as “party wings” and are already split up into the flat wing and the drumette, which is perfect for me because The Boyfriend prefers the drums and I want *all* the flats. For a little while I was preparing a new recipe each time we wanted wings, until I finally figured out my “go to” or The Default. If you love wings, but you and your meal buddy want different flavors, this is the recipe for you. The Default delivers perfectly crispy wings with a delicious dry rub every time, ready to be eaten as is or drenched in your sauce of choice.

Equipment:
Oven
Large glass pan
Tongs

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs “party wings”
2 tbsp cooking oil or animal fat of choice
1-2 tbsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp Diamond Crystal salt

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease one or two glass pans with your fat of choice, using a silicone brush or other preferred utensil to coat the whole bottom of the pan and up the sides. (You may need two pans if you are making more than one pound of wings, if they are too close together, it can overcrowd the pan and they won’t cook as well or as evenly).

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XXX: Spiced Up Chicken Salad

With the very last of our warm weather, we’ve been using the grill basically every day, and this meal was no different. Since I first came up with this dish, we’ve had it at least three times and it is definitely a new house staple.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tsp za’atar
1-2 tsp harissa
2 tsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

For Salad:
1/2 cup sugar-free mayo or to taste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, drizzle oil over chicken thighs. Add harissa and za’atar and mixed gently until coated well. Grill on medium heat until cooked through (or oven roast at 425*F for about 20 minutes). If you are grilling chicken specifically for this recipe, let the meat cool completely and refrigerate for at least an hour before chopping – you don’t want the onions to soften or the mayo to melt! I specifically made extra so I’d have leftovers to make this spiced up chicken salad for lunch the next day, so I’m working with meat right out of the fridge.

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To a large bowl, add chopped 1/2 of a sweet yellow or Walla Walla onion. I highly recommend chopping the onion quite fine, I don’t think I went small enough and ended up with lots of mayo-covered onion at the bottom of the bowl (though The Boyfriend did not seem to mind this and cleaned out both plates).

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, coarsely chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add to the chopped onion. I have been relying on my squeeze-tube mayo lately, but I am estimating that I used about 3/4 cup. This really comes down to personal preference, so add a little bit at a time, stirring and tasting until you get to your desired consistency and flavor. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste and mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Recommend eating within 24-36 hours.

Conflict-Free Wings

With flavors stemming from North Africa and the Middle East, I wanted to bring all these herbs and spices together without stirring up any trouble so for the sake of enjoying a good meal, any debate on the origin of flavors or other political discussions end here.

Somewhat inspired by the za’atar skillet bread The Boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to try at Willi’s Wine Bar on our recent trip to California, the marinade for these wings comes together very quickly and is practically impossible to stop licking off your fingers (before you touch the raw chicken of course).

You Will Need: 
1 large baking sheet
1 cutting board
1 large bowl
1 medium bowl or large ziplock bag
1 small bowl
1 very sharp knife or cleaver
1 rubber spatula
1 pair boning tweezers or equivalent

Ingredients: 
2 lbs whole bone-in chicken wings (about 10 wings)
5 tbsp high-quality olive or avocado oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or cubes
2 tsp lemon juice

Seasoning: 
2 heaping tbsp za’atar
2 heaping tsp harissa
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt

Place the wings in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all herbs and seasoning with 2 tsp lemon juice and 5 tbsp oil. Using a fork, stir until mixture resembles a paste. Set aside.

Cutting board: Using boning tweezers or equivalent, remove any feathers left behind on the wings. Split each wing from the drumstick at the joint with a very sharp knife or cleaver. Add split wings to a clean bowl.

Making this recipe a few times is actually what inspired me to pick up this little thing

Making this recipe a few times is actually what inspired me to pick up this little thing

Using a rubber spatula, toss wings with marinade-paste until all wings are coated. Transfer to ziplock bag or cover bowl with foil, refrigerate for at least four hours.

Remove wings from refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking, this ensures the meat will cook evenly.

Pre-heat oven to 410*F and cover baking sheet with foil.

Arrange wings on baking sheet skin side up and bake for 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, turn the wings so they are facing skin side down and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Set oven to broil, flip wings one last time so they are skin side up, and broil for 3-5 minutes to get the skin nice and crispy.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Kimchi Fried Cauli-Rice

A few months ago, The Boyfriend and I took a little trip through Seattle and Vancouver, BC to celebrate his 30th birthday. While in Vancouver, we had the good fortune to grab seats at the bar at one of the renowned Guu Izakaya restaurants. The special that evening just happened to be kimchi fried rice with pork intestine… and we’ve been talking about it ever since.

There’s just something about fried rice – it’s both exotic and comforting, simple and complex. I could philosophize for ages, but let’s just get to the cooking.  I’ve made cauliflower rice before, so switching out regular rice for the cauli-good-stuff was no big deal. I had originally intended for this part of dinner to last us at least two days, but that just didn’t happen. Thankfully, cauliflower is packed with far more nutrients and other healthy goodies than rice so no real harm in filling up, other than the lack of leftovers. Guess I’ll just have to make it again!

Ingredients: 
1 large head cauliflower
8 oz kimchi
5 slices bacon (optional*)
3 large eggs
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor or food mill
Large non-stick pan
1 small bowl

* if you are not using bacon for dietary or personal preferences, you will need about 3 tbsp of oil (avocado recommended) to replace the bacon grease.

Wash and clean the cauliflower, chop into medium-sized florets, and set on a paper towel to dry. Working in small batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor or run it through a food mill until it resembles rice (you can see the full length recipe in detailhere). Place cauliflower “rice” in a large microwave safe bowl, microwave for 60 seconds, and set aside.

Using a very sharp knife, chop 8 oz kimchi into smaller pieces (I make them just slightly larger than “bite size”) and set aside. Again using a sharp knife, slice bacon strips into smaller, bite-size pieces. Finally, using a fork or whisk, scramble three eggs together in a small bowl.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat (~ 8/10). Add about half of the bacon pieces, using tongs or a spatula to make sure they don’ t stick together. After about 2 minutes, add the rest of the bacon pieces – varying the cooking times makes for a fun change in texture and keeps everybody happy (The Boyfriend prefers the crispiest of bacon, I’m less excited by this). Continue cooking bacon for 3-5 minutes, stirring/flipping often to insure even cooking and that pieces don’t stick together.

Add all 8 oz of kimchi to the pan, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes or until cabbage begins to soften. Dump the entire batch of cauli-rice into the pan, stirring immediately so it’s not just sitting on top of the bacon and kimchi (it will start to burn this way). Continue cooking cauliflower mixture, stirring often, for about 7 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown. Finally, dump the scrambled eggs over the cauliflower mixture, stirring/flipping all contents of the pan (so the eggs are fully incorporated) for about 3 minutes or until eggs are no longer raw.

Remove contents of pan to a large bowl and serve immediately.

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Devilish Egg Salad

I really love eggs, like.. a lot. They are the perfect slow carb food: one chicken egg packs 6g of protein, 5g of fat, less than 1g of sugar, as well as vitamins A, D, B-6, and B-12. As you can imagine, we eat a lot of eggs in this house. Duck, quail, chicken, I love ’em all. I also really really love deviled eggs, but rarely have the patience to neatly put them together when it’s just for The Boyfriend and myself. Enter: the deviled egg salad – same ingredients, half the time, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to. (For the real deal, check out my Top Secret Deviled Eggs).

Appliances/Special Equipment:
1 medium-sized pot
1 medium-large mixing bowl
1 small baking spatula (rubber or silicone)
1 egg slicer or sharp knife

Ingredients: 
5 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 anchovy fillets (canned in oil)
1/2 tsp oil from canned anchovies
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

Prepare eggs to medium temperature, according to The Perfect Boiled Egg (~5 minutes), and peel immediately. Using a sharp knife or egg slicer, cut the eggs in half, and then again into small pieces. Add chopped eggs to mixing bowl.

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Using two forks, shred anchovies into small pieces; add extra anchovies if you like saltier foods. To the eggs, add 1/4 cup mayonnaise, shredded anchovies, 1/2 tsp of oil from the anchovies, paprika, and white pepper. Gently mix with rubber/silicone spatula, making sure to just coat the egg whites and yolks rather than making a mushy mess – you want this to hold up as a salad, after all.

Transfer egg salad to a serving dish or resealable container – other than looking pretty, this is a good way to make sure everything at the bottom was mixed well without risking it turning into mush.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving (or just dig in if no one’s watching).

Stomping Grounds: Five Minute Mustard (sort of)

Mmmmustard. So yummy. So much sugar… at least, in all the good store-bought varieties, and I’ve had enough! It’s probably the easiest condiment to make, and yet it’s constantly packed full of sugar and other crap no one needs to eat. Don’t recognize an ingredient? Neither will your body.

Right, sorry for that little rant. Back to the mustard. This is, in all seriousness, the easiest condiment to make at home and completely, 100% slow carb. It’ll take just a few minutes to pull together, then let it ripen on the counter for a few hours and you’ve got a spicy, pungent mustard way better than that $12 bottle on your shelf.

This recipe makes about 4 servings (two dinners for The Boyfriend and myself), we had the first half tonight mixed with a touch of mayonnaise for my Whatsername Fish Tacos.
Adjust proportions accordingly for a bigger group – this stuff is gonna fly away fast!

Ingredients: 
1 tbsp yellow mustard seed
1 tbsp black or brown mustard seed
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp mustard powder

Special Equipment: 
Mortar & pestle/molcajete (recommended) or equivalent, such as a spice grinder
Mason jar or other canning jar

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Using your mortar and pestle, grind the mustard seeds to desired size. I prefer them quite coarse, but to each their own. Keep in mind: the finer your ground, the spicier and more potent your mustard will be.

Add ground mustard seeds to your jar of choice, and add in remaining ingredients. Mix well with a fork (forks have become my preferred mixing tool as the tines prevent too much product loss, unlike all the good stuff that would get stuck to a spoon).

Let the ripening process begin!

Let the ripening process begin!

Leave your mustard uncovered on the counter to ripen for at least one hour, up to eight hours (your mustard will stop ripening once refrigerated). I’ve read that you can actually cure it for several days at room temperature (covered of course), but have yet to try this – perhaps next time.

If you want to get really creative, replace the water with a dry white wine or even beer for a deeper, more complex flavor (haven’t tried this yet either, but one of the benefits of making small batches is plenty of opportunity to experiment!)

Store unused mustard in the refrigerator.

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Hold the Sizzle: Fiery Chicken Fajitas

If you’re anything like me, you really love fajitas. You love fajitas almost as much as you hate burning your fingers on the damn cast iron skillet that restaurants insist on serving your food on. Every time, they tell me, “don’t touch the plate, it’s hot” and every time, I burn myself one way or another. Never again!

Ingredients: 
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 jalapeño peppers, or equivalent
3 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Seasoning: 
3 tsp cilantro
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp True Lime (or 1 tbsp fresh lime juice)

Necessary Appliances/Special Equipment: 
1 medium-sized bowl
1 small bowl for mixing spices
1 large non-stick pan
1 rubber baking spatula or equivalent (large spoon, etc)

Slice chicken breasts into strips, about 1/2″ thick by 1″-2″ long and place into a medium-sized bowl. Remove seeds from hot peppers and slice into thin strips, add these to the bowl as well.

In a small bowl, combine all the herbs/spices and stir with a fork (if using fresh lime juice, do not add this in yet). Add 3 tbsp avocado oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp lime juice (if using), and all herbs/spices to the bowl of chicken and peppers. Mix gently but thoroughly with rubber spatula or spoon, making sure chicken is evenly coated. Allow chicken and peppers to marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat – you won’t need to add more oil since the chicken has been marinated in some. Dump entire bowl of chicken/pepper mixture into the pan. Sautee over medium heat until chicken is fully cooked through – since the pieces are small, it will be difficult to check the internal temperature, so I usually cut one of the larger pieces in half to make sure the inside is fully cooked.

Serve immediately.