RECIPE // Rosemary Lemon Chicken Wings

| January 27, 2014

More than 100 million people will tune in to Fox on Sunday, February 2, to watch Super Bowl XLVIII. If a dozen or more of those viewers will be at your place, your food spread will need to go deep to outlast every commercial-break blitz to the dining table. So I’m offering up three Super Bowl dishes this week, starting with these Rosemary Lemon Chicken Wings.

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I like these wings because they’re brighter than, and not as messy as, the traditional game-day versions: barbecue, buffalo, and teriyaki. They’re moist and delicious as a result of dry brining, a process of marinating meat without wet ingredients. And the chicken isn’t simply a platform on which to taste a sauce. It’s at the microphone, sharing the spotlight with rosemary and lemon.

The ingredient list, which is adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe my husband uses to make roast chicken, includes 18 fresh, whole chicken wings, several sprigs of fresh rosemary, a couple of lemons, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and half a stick of unsalted butter.

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First, prepare the dry-brine with the lemon, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Since this requires finely grating the zest off of a lemon, chopping rosemary, and then combining the rosemary, lemon zest, salt, and pepper, I broke out my coarse grind Microplane (for the zesting) and the chopper attachment of my Cuisinart immersion blender (for the mixing).

If you don’t have a Microplane, have your vegetable peeler ready. If you don’t have a food processor or a mini electric chopper, get out a fork or a whisk.

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Remove the rosemary leaves from their woody stems and give them a fine chop.

A quick way to pull the leaves off of the stem is to hold the tip of the sprig with one hand and then pull the leaves downward against the direction of their growth on the stem with the other hand. Then, simply pluck the leaves from the tip.

Chop enough rosemary leaves to fill two tablespoons.

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Remove and reserve the zest (aka yellow skin) from both lemons. Don’t peel/grate so deep as to include the white, leathery pith.

If you don’t have a Microplane, use your vegetable peeler to skin each lemon and then finely mince the peel as demonstrated in this POPSUGAR post.

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Add the chopped rosemary, grated/minced lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper into a food processor or mini chopper. Pulse the processor/chopper several times until the ingredients are well combined.

If you don’t have a food processor or a mini chopper, combine the chopped rosemary with the grated/minced lemon zest, kosher salt, and pepper in a bowl using a fork. Blend the ingredients well so that the resulting mixture looks like the photos below.

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The dry brine is ready. Now to prep the wings.

Cut each whole chicken wing into the pieces we usually think of when we order wings at a restaurant. Each whole wing will give you two edible pieces–a drummette and a wingette. Throw away the wing tip.

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Keep in mind that there’s no need to cleave! Simply find the soft spot around the bones in the joints and slice through them as demonstrated in this video by Manitoba Chicken.

Cut the wing tip off first. Then, slightly splay the drummette and wingette pieces to find the soft spot in the joint and cut through.

If you started with 18 whole chicken wings, you will end up with 36 pieces all together (drummettes and wingettes combined).

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Once you’ve cut up the chicken, line the wings up on your cutting board, skin side up. Sprinkle and rub half of the rosemary-lemon-salt-pepper mixture onto the skin side of each wing. Then, turn over each piece and rub the rest of the mixture onto the non-skin side of each wing.

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Place all of the seasoned wings into a freezer bag. Press out as much air as possible and zip the bag shut. Lay the bag of wings flat on a cookie sheet in the refrigerator and let the wings marinade, refrigerated, for at least three hours.

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Set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and a second rack just below it. After three hours have passed, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. Retrieve the chicken wings from the refrigerator and line them up on each pan.

Remember that half a stick of butter in the ingredient list? Melt it in the microwave and brush each side of the wings with it. The butter helps the wings brown as they bake. When you’ve finished buttering, make sure each wing is lying on the sheet with skin side up.

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Once the oven is at 425 degrees F, set one sheet of wings on the middle rack and the other on the rack below it. Let the wings bake, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Enjoy the aroma of rosemary, lemon, and chicken that fills the kitchen.

After 20 minutes, take each sheet of chicken wings out, making sure to note which sheet was on the middle rack and which one wasn’t. Turn each wing over on both sheets so that the non-skin side is facing up. Then, place the sheet of wings that started out on the middle rack onto the rack below the middle, and set the other sheet onto the middle rack.

Let the wings cook for another 10 minutes. Then, take the sheets out and transfer the wings to a serving dish. Tent the dish with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

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***
Lemon Rosemary Chicken Wings (adapted from Fine Cooking’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Salt)
Makes 36 pieces / 30 minutes to prep, 3 hours to brine, 30 minutes to cook

18 whole chicken wings, about 3.5 lbs, cut into drummettes and wingettes, tips discarded
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
Zest of two medium-sized lemons
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

  1. Add the chopped rosemary, lemon zest, kosher salt, and pepper into a food processor or mini chopper. Pulse the processor/mini chopper as many times as it takes to combine the ingredients well.
  2. Line up the drummettes and wingettes on two cutting boards, skin side up. Sprinkle and rub half of the rosemary-lemon-salt-pepper mixture onto the skin side of each wing. Turn over each piece and sprinkle and rub the rest of the mixture onto the non-skin side of each wing.
  3. Zip the seasoned wings into a clear freezer bag. Lay the bag of wings flat on a cookie sheet or flat platter set in the refrigerator. Let the wings marinade, refrigerated, for at least three hours.
  4. After three hours, position two racks in the oven, one in the middle and one just below the middle. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. Take the wings out of the refrigerator and line them up on the pans. Brush each side of the wings with the melted unsalted butter. Once buttered, make sure each wing is lying skin side up.
  6. Once the oven is at 425 degrees F, set one sheet of wings on the middle rack and the other sheet of wings on the rack below it. Let the wings bake undisturbed for 20 minutes.
  7. After 20 minutes, take the wings out of the oven, noting which sheet was on the middle rack. Turn all of the wings over so that the non-skin side faces up. Set both sheets back into the oven, but this time set the sheet that started on the middle rack onto the rack below it, and set the other sheet on the middle rack. Let the wings bake, undisturbed, for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove the wings from the oven. Transfer them to a platter and, if not serving immediately, tent with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
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