Nuyorican Chicken Wings

What better way to celebrate the dawning of a new year than by going back to homey comfort food? By that, I mean dishes that remain all-time favorites. Among these I include chicken wings. I know, we have all kinds of variations: Buffalo chicken wings, breaded chicken wings, broiled chicken wings . . . and the list goes on. We Nuyoricans have our own way of cooking. At least we do in the Rivera family; and it goes back to using tried and true methods and ingredients. You could say it's baked chicken wings---but with that Puerto Rican élan (I know, it's one of those fancy-dan words I discovered during my travels in Europe).

In our recipe, it calls for using a mortar to crush the seasoning ingredients. A mortar and pestle (at one time considered exotic) is a utensil that now can be found in most food outlets. If not, any Latino/Hispanic or Asian market will carry the item. Other than that, the recipe is no-nonsense, easy to prepare and delicious. Normally we serve it with yellow rice and/or tostones (fried green plantains---see entry of 9/9/10 for a quick recipe). If preferred, you can serve it with chicken gravy and mashed potatoes. Chicken wings, in whatever manner, is a dish that will never go out of style.


10 chicken wings
3 cloves garlic, peeled
12 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Rinse chicken wings under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, place in a bowl, and set aside.
3. Put the garlic, peppercorns, salt and oregano into a mortar and pound until crushed. Add this mix to the chicken and toss to combine thoroughly with the chicken wings. If desired, you can use another variation---which is to place chicken wings with seasoning in a large zip-lock bag and shake to combine. Use whatever method seems best.
4. Place chicken wings in a shallow roasting pan (I prefer cast iron) and bake for 1 hour or until crisp and cooked through.
    Yield: 2-3 servings. If you want more, you can double the recipe for 4+ servings.

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