Saturday, May 9, 2015

Chicken Wings: Marinated, Barbecued, Baked

I love wings as much as I love spareribs.  I love them with almost every kind of sauce one can think of, whether they are glazed or marinated in the sauce or the sauce is served on the side.  I make them every so often--usually placing some of the cooked wings in small zip-lock bags; then into the freezer they go for a snack for whenever I get the urge--sometimes for supper, sometimes for lunch.
Garlic wings, End of the Line Pub in Bridgetown

For many years I never saw chicken wings in Germany other than frozen ones.  Now I can buy fresh ones easily.  I have yet to see them on a Gasthaus menu, but occasionally I'll stop at Burger King and have theirs.  When I go to Nova Scotia, I often order wings at a pub and I sometimes make them to take as an appetizer to a TGIF on a Friday evening.

I have tried multi wing recipes and to this day I still clip an interesting one from a magazine, always thinking it might be the best I've ever had.  I do have my favourites, ones I make the most often.  I nearly always marinate them first and/or baste them well with a sauce while they bake. 

I have simplified the process by no longer cutting them in half, unless, of course, I am serving them to others.  Once they are cooked and on my plate, I cut them in half then.  Much easier and takes less time and fiddling.  (I remove the tips first if there are any and freeze them for stock later.)  I rinse the wings in cold water, dry them well with paper towels, and then either marinate them or just sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  I bake them for about 20 minutes or so (turning them over once) and then basting them with a sauce until they are cooked.

The first time I prepared chicken wings was back in the 1970s in Winnipeg.  I pre-cooked them in the microwave.  We had bought an Amana, the first microwave that was sold at the LX/Canex in Lahr in the mid 1970s, taking it back to Canada with us.  What I did then was put the wings, after rinsing and drying them, into the microwave for about 5 minutes or whatever the time was for the weight, until they were about cooked.  Then, on to the barbecue, basting them with a sauce until they were crisp and full of flavour.  It didn't take long.  We loved them; kids loved them.  I haven't cooked them on the barbecue for a long time now, but it is a great way to do them.

Below: my wings with a lemon and soy sauce.

The following recipe is the one I first used.  It is still very good. From Germany, we were posted to Winnipeg along with our Amana microwave oven and other household belongings.  The following summer my brother-in-law Dennis and his family visited us there.  I made that first wing recipe.  My nephew Stephen would have eaten them all if he had been allowed, as he loved them.  Perhaps all of us would have.  Most of the ingredients are usually on our shelves or in the fridge, so this is a recipe that can be made just when you feel like wings.  You just have to buy the wings themselves--or have some in the freezer!

Chicken Wings with a Lemon and Soy Sauce - Makes 12 servings or enough for 4 persons with about 4 wings each.  The sauce recipe should be enough for 4 lbs if you wish to cook more wings.

3 lbs chicken wings
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2-1/2 lemons)
1/4 cup soy sauce
Garlic, crushed (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
Remove tips from wings and discard or freeze for broth later.  Divide each wing in half by cutting through the joint (or leave them whole).  Place in a single layer on a broiler pan rack.  Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, turning once.  (They can then be cooled and placed in the fridge until later in the day if wished.)

Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, pepper, ginger in a small saucepan; stir in water, lemon juice, soy sauce and crushed garlic (if using).  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils, about 3 minutes.  Brush some sauce over the wings.  Continue baking, turning and brushing with the remaining sauce several times for about 20 to 30 minutes or until richly glazed.

Note:  You can also precook these in the microwave oven instead and then place them on the barbecue, basting with the sauce until well glazed.  Any leftover wings can be frozen--if there are any!

The following two recipes are ones I make often.

Maple-Glazed Wings  (one of my favourites)
2 to 3 lbs whole chicken wings, cut into two pieces (or left whole)
1 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I use about 1 teaspoon)
   Then, I added the following (not part of the original recipe):
2 good squeezes lemon juice
1 tsp Heinz 57 or HP sauce
2 to 3 drops Tabasco or more if you like it a bit hotter
2 large garlic cloves, minced 

Combine all ingredients except the wings.  Reserve 1 cup or more for basting and refrigerate it.  Add the wings to the remaining marinade in a large resealable plastic bag and turn to coat well.  Refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight), turning occasionally.  Drain and discard marinade.  (I always hate to lose all the marinade, so I sometimes add that marinade to a small pot and simmer it for about 20 to 30 minutes. You can then put it in the fridge to use as more sauce or freeze it for another time.)

The recipe calls for the wings to be grilled over medium heat for 12 to 16 minutes, turning occasionally.  Brush with the reserved marinade and grill, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes more or until the wings are cooked, with the juices running clear.  Baste and turn several times. 

 Maple-glazed wings just out of the oven

I usually place the wings on an oiled, tin-foil covered cookie sheet.  I bake them in a 375F/190C preheated oven for about 40 minutes-- more or less, depending on the size of the wings--and turning them over every so often, basting them with the sauce.  Have lots of hand wipes or napkins as these are sticky, but so good!

The following recipe I adapted from Woman's Weekly, Oct. 1990.

Marinated Chicken Wings with Sherry (another favourite of mine)

12 chicken wings (double the recipe for 2 kg/4 lbs)
4 Tbsp sherry or orange juice (I use medium-dry sherry)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 oz (6 Tbsp) soft brown sugar (I use dark brown sugar)
Juice of 1 lemon
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped or 1 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (my addition)

3 to 4 metal skewers (if using)

On one occasion, I doubled the recipe but had only 1 lemon, so I used the juice of 1 orange as well; and, of course, 8 Tbsp sherry plus double the remaining ingredients.  I did go easier on the ginger and used just the 3 cloves garlic.  The sauce was very good.

Method:  Lay wings flat in a dish or place in a large zip-lock bag.  Mix together the remaining ingredients.  Pour over the wings and leave to marinate for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.  Turn 2 to 3 times.  When ready to cook, you can place three wings on each skewer (more skewers if you double the recipe with more wings).  Cook under a medium grill for 20 minutes, turning a couple of times and basting often with the marinade.

The marinade
Heat any remaining marinade in a small pot.  Spoon a little over the grilled chicken wings and pass any remaining sauce.

Baking in the oven:  I remove the wings from the marinade and then pour the marinade into a small pot and simmer it.  I thicken it with a little cold water and cornstarch and then simmer it again, using it for basting the wings as they cook.  (You can strain it into a bowl, if wished, in order to remove the garlic.)  Place the wings on a cookie sheet covered with lightly oiled tin foil and then bake them, basting often with the marinade in a 375F/190C oven for about 40 to 45 minutes or until they are cooked.  You can also place them in a large casserole dish and bake them right in the marinade, but basting them now and again.  Just watch that the sauce doesn't disappear.  

BBQ'd Wings
I gave two different BBQ sauce recipes in previous blogs.  Both are excellent.  I use one or the other every so often as the sauce for wings.  One can be found in my post of 12 Dec 2012 (Spareribs on Winter Days); the other, on 7 Jan 2015 (Prosit to the New Year).

My wings with BBQ sauce on three different occasions (above  and below; the last, a week ago).  As I nearly always have a jar of my own BBQ sauce in the fridge, that makes it fast and easy to make those wings more often.  The sauce is also great on ribs of course.

Place the wings in the 375F/190C oven on a baking sheet and baste with the BBQ sauce, turning a couple times, until they are cooked and glossy, about 40 to 45 minutes.

You can also use these recipes for chicken legs or thighs.  Just cook them longer, whether in the oven or on the barbecue.

With any of the wings' recipes, a green or mixed salad, tomato salad or plain fresh tomatoes, along with French fries, sauteed potatoes or even baked potatoes goes well.  Corn niblets or corn on the cob in summer is also a great accompaniment.  

On the evening I had the marinated wings with sherry, I sauteed a potato with a few onions and along with fresh small tomatoes, it was a very enjoyable supper.  I didn't have any more marinade to use as sauce at the table, but they were still flavourful and so good.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Great Time Was Had, but All Good Things Come to an End (Part 3)

My sister Carol's last couple of days here in Germany were full as were the previous ones.  As Hans had had a birthday before she arrived, she wanted to treat him to a nice dinner at a good Gasthaus. So reservations were made at Gasthaus Zur Krone in Mussbach, one we know well.  The Gasthaus is rustic and warm and the food is excellent, with the former Wirt's son now the chef and Wirt. 

Carol and I at our table

The chef's wife, now the Wirtin, took this picture of the three of us
The lovely wood panelling can be seen in the background.  We are seated next to the Kachelofen (the tiled heating stove), so it was cosy and warm.

Hans and I had filet steaks with sauce Bordelaise (a red wine sauce).  Superb! 

Carol had a chicken dish with a delicious sauce.  Both were outstanding.

Our dinner began with salad followed by the main course, which included a platter of fresh vegetables and Rösti, which are grated and similar to Bratkartoffeln. The vegetable and potato platters were refilled and both were excellent.  Everything was full of flavour.

The picture below right is dark but it gives a view of our table and and the platter of Rösti.  The Wirtin is behind the table.  This was indeed a special meal and one we all truly enjoyed.


The following day was Carol's last day before leaving Germany.  We had dinner at home that night and enjoyed the first Spargel of the season.  Hans had been lucky to find some as the weather had been too cool for it to show its tips in the asparagus fields.  White Spargel is harvested just as it shows its tip at the surface.  It was German Spargel and excellent.  The season is short and by accepted regulation can only be served fresh in a Gasthaus or restaurant for approximately two months in the spring.

Dinner being served, with Carol receiving the first white asparagus of the season.

With the Spargel we always enjoy the same accompaniments:  Boiled new potatoes (traditional), Kratzede (at a Gasthaus you will likely get one or the other, but not both, unless you order extra).  These are almost my favourite part of the meal; a Spargel dinner for me would not be the same without them.  Then, three types of Schinken (ham):  smoked, partially smoked and unsmoked.  Also traditional.  And, of course, a sauce for the asparagus (I put it on almost everything!).  We both love hollandaise with it, although Hans' usually is more like a Bearnaise sauce and it is excellent.  As I write, I can almost taste that dinner!  

Below left:  the Kratzede (crepe) and the sauce in particular.  This was my plate and I started with unsmoked Schinken.  On the right, a view of the table and Carol checking it all out.  

This was a fitting ending to her visit with us and one we shall all remember for a long time.

The following morning we three drove to Frankfurt for her to catch her flight to Boston.  She had a three-hour delay due to her Lufthansa flight being overbooked.  We didn't know that until later.  Her flight to Germany was also complicated because Lufthansa was on strike; that flight was cancelled shortly before she was to depart by car to the airport in Boston.  Luckily, Air Canada stepped in and found her one with them.  She and we were fortunate that she actually made it. No thanks to Lufthansa.

Late the following day, Jean arrived back.  For the next week, we ate well, did a little more driving in the countryside and enjoyed the time together.  As she always does, a little more shopping was managed.

One evening we had a spaghetti dinner at home.  Hans makes the best you'll have I think (as do many others!).  Along with it, the traditional garlic bread and a salad.  The wine was a bottle of Chianti from the Toscana, one we usually have with a spaghetti dinner as we find it compliments Spaghetti Bolognese best.


On another evening, we had Spargel once again, as Jean loves it.  Hans was again lucky to find it.  In the interim, after our first meal with Carol, he had seen no German asparagus in the stores. 


During Jeans stay, she and I headed to Wittenweier to see the Easter display as she had never been.  The sign above the well says: Water is Life and it surely is.  The town dates back to the year 1270.

We had noticed a few benches set up and a table with a tenting above it.  The table was filled with cakes, so we decided to have a look and perhaps purchase a piece.  The lady serving said that there was no charge for the cake and coffee, but if we wished to make a small donation, just to put it in the can that they had attached to a fence.  The cakes were all made by the ladies in the village to raise a little money for the Verein (an organization that helps out at various Fests and so on).  So, we both asked for a piece and some coffee and, of course, added some money to the can.

We had one last dinner out that evening as Jean departed the following morning.  Jean, Hans and I went back to the Linde for one more time for Jean to have their chicken, as she loves it as much as I do.

 And down the hill she went!

Guten Appetit!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Good Times, Good Food and the Gasthaus Life (Part 2)

Our friends Jean and Chris left on a Tuesday for Burgundy.  The next day my sister Carol and I were on the road ourselves, but this time not far. We joined the ladies at the Bruckerhof in Reichenbach for lunch.

Carol gazing at her lunch with a smile on her face and Gertrud looking on
The Bruckerhof's special toast, filled with mushrooms, ham, lots of cheese, two sauces

From the Bruckerhof, we headed home through the Schutter Valley, stopping at the Gasthof Engel enroute for a glass of wine, the same Gasthaus where it all began for my celebration party.  Hans joined us there.
At a table in the Gasthof Engel
Hans says that Uli, one of the sons of the late owners, who serves the tables and looks after the dining areas, pours one of the best beers around.  (The Gasthaus is still owned by his family; his brother Martin is the Wirt and chef.)  The other beer, perfectly poured, is at the Grünen Baum in Keppenbach, one of the reasons we often go there, along with their having the best Bauern Vesper in the area (Black Forest smoked ham and assorted sausages).

Carol had told us she would love to go to France, partly so she could tell her friends back in New Hampshire that she had, but also, of course, because she remembered it from a trip here ten years earlier.  So off to Alsace we went the following day, Hans driving.  Below, a traffic circle with an Alsatian theme.

Our first destination was Ebersmunster to visit their baroque cathedral, one similar to the cathedral in Ettenheimmünster.  Not only are both baroque, but both have Silbermann organs, two of only seven or eight in the world.

The following three pictures I took on another visit as the day was brighter and the pictures better.  Nothing otherwise has changed.


Silbermann organ

Wood hand carvings


Other than in the large towns, we found not a place to stop for a glass of wine on our drive along the Route du Vin.  One of the reasons Alsatians are coming over to Germany's wine hills and to the Gasthauser is that it is difficult to find anything open in the Alsace during the day, other than at meal times.  High season is better, of course.  When we drove through Ribeauville, a much larger town and a show piece, places were open but not a parking space to be found.

From Ebersmunster, we drove to one of our favourite Alsatian destinations:  Dambach-la-Ville.  It is a walled town and not as touristy as some of the other--also beautiful--towns.

Below, the town hall in Dambach-la-Ville with the French flag flying.  It was late summer when I took that picture.

Below, a vintner advertising his wine.  Throughout Alsace, one can stop for a tasting.  However, we feel if you have a free tasting, then you should buy at least one or two bottles of their wine--or more!

Typical houses with geraniums everywhere in summer

The sign below invited one to stop, although on this day the restaurant was not open.

Last summer it was open and we sat outside at "Aux Deux Clefs," shown below.  It is located just outside the town wall and is a lovely, peaceful spot. 

The following day we went for supper to the Kleiner Meierhof, one we know well in Ettenheimweiler.  Carol had her first Flammenkuchen.  It has a thin crust, cream or a mixture of cream and creme fraiche spread thinly over the crust and then topped with Münsterkäse (Munster cheese) and Schinken (bacon pieces).  You can, of course, have a different topping, but that is one of our favourites and Carol enjoyed it.

The next day we were invited to Hans and Sylvi's for coffee and cake in mid afternoon.  As usual, Sylvi outdid herself.  Both are great hosts.  Hans S. opened a bottle of Sekt for us all to enjoy and, of course, coffee was served. 


Sylvi is a wonderful baker.  The cake at left was an apple cake with a crumb and almond nut topping; the one below right, a cheese cake with raspberry filling and a cake base.  Absolutely wonderful, both of them!  Not only that, she gave me a few pieces to take home to enjoy again.

Easter was approaching and a small town near us, which has been decorating the centre of their town for the past ten years for that occasion, had their displays ready.  We decided to drive to Wittenweier, about a 20-minute drive, to view it.  It is always beautifully done, with the whole town, including the children, taking part.

Carol, below left, taking a few pictures.


That evening we went out for a wonderful dinner.  I shall talk about that in my next blog post.  After that, it will be back to other subjects, including food topics.

I hope you are all enjoying spring as we are here in Germany.