Chicken wings with Mediterranean herbs
Need a quick appetizer? Go for these appetizing wings.
If you enjoy eating with your hands, these wings are for you. Informal company and plenty of napkins are what’s called for with these highly seasoned, olive-oil-drizzled morsels. The Mediterranean herbs so loved in Israeli cuisine make the wings special: za’atar, thyme, bay leaves and plenty of finely chopped garlic. All those herbs grow here in the wild, and I’ve picked all of them on foraging hikes. The flavor of fresh, green bay leaves, in particular, is a revelation. But when I’ve used up my foraged herbs, I hike out to the supermarket and pick up some packaged ones. They’re good, too.
And lemons. Citrus trees grow everywhere in Israel. If your building has one tree in the common garden, it’ll likely be a lemon. In my neighborhood, lemon trees are cherished, but oranges, kumquats and clementines are so abundant that they often fall off the tree and just stay on the ground. You can substitute fresh orange juice for the lemon in this dish, and it’ll give that bright note, but lemon juice is my first choice.
I like to add soy sauce to these wings, for even greater depth of flavor. Not a native Israeli ingredient, I admit, but one that Israelis took to as soon as those bottles of dark liquid appeared on market shelves. In our evolving cuisine, chefs play with traditional and exotic ingredients to create delicious fusions, and who am I to say no? I just follow my taste buds. One day when I stood in the kitchen looking at a package of fresh chicken wings, my taste buds took me to this dish.
- 20 cleaned chicken wings
- 4 large cloves garlic, or more if liked
- 4 medium bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried za’atar (may substitute oregano)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chili, or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
I like to season the wings right in the baking tray after I’ve chopped the garlic; no need to put them in a bowl first. This calls for using your hands to season them. It makes for less kitchen clean-up and saves water, always a consideration in Israel. However, if you prefer not to massage raw wings, do put them in a bowl and add seasonings, mixing with a long wooden spoon.
Peel and chop the garlic roughly.
Place a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray. Scrape the garlic onto it.
Drop all the wings onto the garlic. Add the dry seasons, the soy sauce, lemon juice and olive oil.
Squeeze half a lemon over everything.
Turn the wings over a good few times to cover them with seasonings. Even better, massage the seasonings into the wings thoroughly with your hands.
Let the wings rest 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
Roast the wings 15 minutes, then turn them over. Roast another 10 minutes or until all the wings are golden-brown.
Tip: Wings seasoned this way are excellent grilled.