Friday, August 5, 2011

Whole Foods Friday: Herbed wings and salad, too.

Whole Foods Friday is what I'm calling my new partnership with the local Whole Foods stores in Boulder County. Whole Foods lets me shop for what I need for any recipe I want to make, and I post the results here. Whole Foods also posts my recipes on their Boulder blog. It's a fun project.

Lemon and oregano is one of my favorite combinations with chicken. When I cook a whole chicken, it's not unusual for me to stuff herbs and cut up lemons inside the chicken.

But wings are small, so they have to be treated differently. Marinating is one option, but the acid in lemon can break down the meat and make it mushy if it rests too long. So I decided to infuse the flavors a different way - with oils.

I love having flavored oils on hand. I used to think it was cheating - why use lemon oil when you can use fresh lemon? For one thing, the flavor is different. Lemon juice is tart, lemon zest can be a little bitter. Lemon oil is mellower. There are good uses for all three. And in fact, this recipe uses all three.

As far as the salad, it's not meant as a personal salad, but more like an antipasto or a relish plate meant for sharing and grazing and nibbling.

I used the same lemon oil for the salad that I used for the chicken, and then I went hunting for a vinegar to use. As much as I like balsamic, I wanted something a little lighter.

I considered a sherry vinegar, but then I found a Muscat vinegar and went with that instead. It's got enough sweetness that it doesn't need any tempering.

For the cheese, I used a smooth, creamy goat cheese. Feta would work just as well. As far as the vegetables, I've given you the amounts I used, but of course you can adjust it the way you want it.

The olives and artichoke hearts came from the olive bar; the pepperoncini came in a jar.

The wings and salad combined make a perfect casual summer meal. If you're feeling particularly casual, you can probably dispense with utensils. Eh, maybe toothpicks for the salad, if you must.

Even better, the leftover chicken is great cold. Serve it along with leftover salad.

Grilled Wings

2 pounds chicken wings
2 tablespoons lemon oil
1 tablespoon garlic oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine the lemon oil, garlic oil, oregano, and lemon zest in a plastic zip-top bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and massage to coat the chicken with the oil. Refrigerate until ready to cook - at least several hours or overnight.

Pull the wings out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you're ready to cook, and fire up the grill. Cook the wings, turning often, until they are browned and cooked through. Pile them on a plate, drizzle with the lemon juice, and sprinkle with additional oregano, if desired.

Fresh Summer Chunky Salad

2 medium pickling cucumbers, peeled ends cut off, quartered lengthwise, then cut in half
1 small zucchini, cut in  rounds
Grape or cherry tomatoes
1/2 green bell pepper, cored and cut into bite-size strips
1/4 cup pitted mixed olives
Marinated artichoke hearts, to taste
Pepperoncini pepper, to taste
Goat cheese, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon muscat vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon oil

Arrange the vegetables on a serving plate.

Sprinkle with the oregano, then drizzle on the oil and vinegar. And yes, you don't emulsify the oil and vinegar - and you don't need to drizzle them on evenly. Each little bite should be different. Some might have just oil, others just vinegar. Some might have both, and some might have neither. That's just fine. If you prefer, add a little more oil and vinegar.

Finish the dish with a few grinds of pepper, and a sprinkling of salt. This is the place to use a large flake salt, if you have it. Kosher or sea salt is fine, as well.