We’re only making wings from Nigel

Did you get the XTC reference? No? Sigh. I’m old. Then again, certain things are best left in the ’80s.

Not these chicken wings, though, from The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater. We loves us some Nigel: his simple, seasonal, delicious food; his homespun, pub-fireside British prose [hereafter presented in brackets]; and his autobiography, Toast (it’s an even better movie, if you can get hold of it).

This is an incredibly simple, tasty, addictive [moreish] recipe… you’ll make it again and again, guaranteed. We’ve fine tuned a couple of the steps, but the ingredients are the same: big, organic chicken or capon wings, lemons, bay leaves, flaky salt, very coarsely ground [nubbly] pepper, and olive oil.

Put a heavy roasting pan in the top 1/3 of your oven [hob] and preheat the oven to 400’F [Gas Mark 6]. In a large bowl, toss 12 large chicken wings (i.e., 24 pieces) with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp flaky salt, and 2 tsp of [nubbly] pepper. Cut 2 lemons into quarters, and squeeze them over the wings (don’t worry about seeds).

Once the pan is good and hot, remove it from the oven and dump the wings and juices into it, spreading them out so they’ll brown. Scatter the juiced lemon chunks around the pan, and tuck about 10 fresh bay leaves (or 5 dried) in amongst the wings.

Return the pan to the oven, and roast for 25 minutes or so. Flip them over – a thin, sturdy fish spatula works well here, to scrape up the caramelizing juices – and roast for another 10 minutes or thereabouts, until they’re richly browned.

Try not to burn your fingers. These go nicely with a big caesar salad, to echo the lemony-rich flavours, and a cheap soave or pinot grigio.


C is for Chicken, Cooked Under a Rock

Edward Gorey might have appreciated the various indignities inflicted upon our poor dinner hen. Spatchcocked, submerged in brine, and placed atop burning coals, weighted down with a heavy stone. Shudder. He might also have appreciated the end product: pollo al mattone.

We started with a fine little free range bird – a fryer (around 3 lbs) rather than a larger roaster – from The Friendly Butcher.

She spent a few hours in this brine, from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home – but definitely would have benefited from a few more hours – maybe 6 or 8 in total.

Here is – should we name her? Do let’s. In deference to her roots, something Italian, by way of a backyard grill in New Jersey. Maybe… Carlotta? Okay. Carlotta it is. Carlotta Mattone.

Right. Having dried, oiled, and sprinkled the hapless hen with some paprika, we’re off to the BBQ, where we have lit a chimney full of lump hardwood coals and strewn them across one half of the grill. Having heated and lightly oiled the grill rack, we place the chicken thereupon, breast-side down and facing bravely toward – but not on – the side with the coals. And the coup de grace: a 5-lb patio stone, of roughly the same dimensions as the bird, wrapped in a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Judging by the time stamps on the photos, we grilled the bird (lid closed) for 12 minutes, rotated it 90′, waited another 12 minutes, then flipped her over for a final 10 minutes of cooking.

Almost there - we're aiming for 165'.

Done like dinner.

And here it is, having rested for 15 minutes or so (so much better warm than it is piping hot) and anointed with olive oil.

She drove a Trans Am, but ended up a Firebird.