S erved at a bar or at a casual summer gathering, chicken wings are crowd pleasers, whatever way you prepare them.
As a young cook, I learned from a chef friend how to properly butcher a chicken without wasting anything. The breasts and legs were swiftly removed, which if done well meant leaving behind as little meat as possible. The carcass, feet, wing tips and neck were then saved for broth, but to get even more from the bird, the meaty parts of the wings were turned into hors d’oeuvres or staff meals.
But you don’t have to be a frugal French chef butchering a dozen chickens to get a pile of wings on the table: Most supermarkets sell them packaged, of course. I prefer the hefty drumette part, but you can also use the midsection, the tips (which are near-meatless but still delicious) or the whole wings, with all three sections attached.
The wings can be dressed however you’d like. They’re just as delicious salted, peppered and roasted on a sheet pan as they are with a more complex marinade or sauce.
Many cooks take the classic Buffalo approach; the wings are deep fried, brushed with a zesty sauce and served with celery sticks and ranch dressing. Others still prefer a mild teriyaki seasoning. Korean-style wings are gaining in popularity, and there are countless Chinese variations. And, yes, there’s the “hot wing” trend, fueled by hordes of numb-tongued eaters, beers in hand, competing to devour the spiciest wings.
But at home the other night, I headed in a Greco-Italian direction. I wanted the wings to be very lemony, so more than a few sliced lemons were involved, as were olive oil, garlic and rosemary, plenty of black pepper and a good pinch of hot crushed red pepper.
The wings, baked on a bed of fingerling potatoes, emerged well bronzed and fragrant. I gave them another splash of lemon juice and a sprinkling of dried oregano.
The lemony wings and potatoes are delicious hot and crisp, but just as good at cool room temperature. It’s definitely finger food, though, whether you serve them indoors or out. So no silverware, please — just napkins.