We might not all be lucky enough to experience the hot-blooded culture and cuisine of Mexico first hand, but we can certainly do our bit to help bring a little Mexican sunshine into our lives and cast out the lingering grey. Leyla brings us some heat with her delicious recipe for barbecued chicken wings and a wonderful side of creamed corn
Society is experiencing a unification – in chorus and with hands thrown into the air, we are all questioning the powers that be with cries of ‘but where IS the sun – we’re almost in June!’, our laments once again left unheard as we wake to yet another day of overcast skies and winter coats. The days are getting longer - it’s still light by 9pm now – but the early summer weather has gone AWOL and somebody needs to start pulling rank. In the meantime, there’s nothing to stop us planning for the incredible BBQ’s we will inevitably be throwing once the first beam of sunlight pierces through the overhanging shroud – we’ll be there waiting in the wings in shorts and flip-flops, ready to spring into action and get the coals on before that ray hits the ground. And with umbrellas at the ready, of course.
When it comes to barbecues, everyone loves a hot wing or four. They’re the perfect finger food and involve some of the tastiest parts of the bird. There’s also something quite liberating about pulling meat off bone with your teeth - throw into your garden scene a spread-eagled woolly mammoth rug and a couple of tusks as leaning posts and you could well be making dinner for a pack of grunting Neanderthals. You’ll find the wing sauce systematically migrate across your face, further reaching with every bone you gnaw and suck dry as you throw back to the ways of our ancestral cavemen and get your muzzle in amongst all that juicy meat - embrace it.
These wings utilise the smoky heat from chipotles which are smoked jalapeños chillies, common in Mexican cooking. To help add some freshness and zing I’ve also included two other Mexican staples – fresh coriander and lime juice. The marinade takes no time to throw together and if you can keep your meat steeped in it overnight, all the better for it.
As a side and to help cool off the palette, my version of creamed corn. The creaminess is achieved with the addition of quark – an almost fat free cream cheese readily available in supermarkets. The sweetness from corn and the cooling properties of the quark make a fabulous accompaniment to the hot wings – this can be made in a saucepan and heaped serving spoonfuls distributed on the plates of your guests. Depending on how hot they like their sides, stir into the creamed corn as much or as little chopped jalapeños as you fancy and they can handle.
800g chicken wings (around 10 decent sized wings)
For the marinade
4 x dried chipotles
1 large red chilli
1 clove garlic
Juice from 1.5 limes
1 tbsp honey
2 heaped tbsp tomato paste
Half a small bunch of coriander
For the creamed corn
330g canned sweetcorn (drained weight)
3 spring onions, sliced
Handful of chopped coriander
To make the marinade, place all ingredients in a good processor and blitz until chopped up and combined. Season with salt and pepper and taste - adjust any elements to your palette. Pierce all over your wings with the end of a sharp knife.
Tip the marinade into a sandwich bag and one at a time, place a wing in the bag and use your hand to fully coat the wing, making sure the marinade gets into every nook and cranny. When each wing is coated, place in a bowl, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until ready to cook. The chicken should be given at least a few hours to marinade, but overnight is better.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to about 200C (fan) and place your wings on baking tray - don’t crowd them. Place on the top shelf until cooked. Alternatively, you can throw these on a BBQ. In the meantime, make your creamed corn.
Empty the sweetcorn either into a food processor or just a bowl if you have a stick blender. Blitz the corn until it is mushy but still with a rough texture - you don’t want it too smooth. Place into a saucepan on a low to medium heat and slowly heat through. When the corn is hot, take off the heat and stir in the quark until fully combined. Add the chopped spring onions, coriander and jalepenos and stir.
Serve the wings with a sprinkling of coriander and a squeeze of lime, along side the creamed corn.
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