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Lemony chicken wings soar above the rest


    Lemony roasted chicken wings prepared by David Tanis in New York. This dish takes inspiration from the Mediterranean— a departure from the classic Buffalo approach.

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 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 room temperature. It’s definitely finger food, though, whether you serve them indoors or out. So no silverware, please — just napkins.


By David Tanis

  • 2 pounds very small potatoes, such as fingerlings, whole, or use medium-size yellow- fleshed potatoes, cut in halves or wedges
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, preferably drumettes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 small lemons, cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moon slices
  • Leaves from 6 large rosemary sprigs
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/2 cup chopped green garlic shoots
  • 1 cup dry white or rose wine
  • Pinch dried oregano (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse potatoes and pat dry. Place in roasting pan.

If you are eating chicken wings Buffalo-style, grab a beer. But for these Mediterranean-style wings I’d prefer a bracing Mediterranean white wine. Perhaps a vermentinu, as vermentinos are called on the French island of Corsica, or a French white from Cassis, outside Marseilles. You could try a Greek white, a dry rose or a dry sparkling wine — good cava, if you want to stay Mediterranean. And you wouldn’t be wrong if you stuck with beer.
— Eric Asimov, New York Times

Spread chicken wings on baking sheet or cutting board in a single layer. Season both sides of wings generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with red-pepper flakes.

Transfer seasoned wings to a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon slices, rosemary leaves and garlic; toss well with (plastic-gloved) hands.

Arrange wings over potatoes in a single layer. Add wine and cover roasting pan tightly with foil.

Bake 45 minutes, until potatoes are done.

Remove foil and return pan to oven and bake about 20 minutes more, until wings are nicely browned.

Using tongs, turn wings over and bake another 20 minutes to brown on other side. Sprinkle with dried oregano, and serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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