Sunday, January 25, 2009

There's No Shame in Appetizers for Dinner: Smokey Lime Chile Chicken Wings, Quick-Cooked Bok Choy, and Avocado Yogurt Sauce

Chicken wings are the greatest. The meat is usually on the cheap side, you can eat a ton of pieces without getting too full (although I usually end up that way), the spiciness combined with the cooling blue cheese and celery... it all adds up to something that's usually bar food but I think makes a fantastic main course. I decided to do the Smokey Lime variation in the book, which Bittman wisely suggests serving with Avacado Yogurt sauce. For vegetables, I got Bok Choy at the store and made Bittman's Quick Bok Choy.

The chicken wings, you separate into three parts if they didn't come that way (Whole Foods sells them separated in two parts already, but then you don't get the tips and it costs more). Save the tips--little triangular pieces that have pretty much no meat on them--for stock if that's your thing. Toss in some salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and roast them til they're done and a little brown. Then you toss them in the pimenton-chili powder-lime juice mixture, throw them back in the oven for a few minutes, and you're good to go. It took a little time--maybe an hour in total--but was pretty foolproof. How'd they taste? Hot, smoky, little tang from the lime, just perfect. They were a little bit overdone in my opinion, but this is another magical thing about chicken wings: even a little dry, they're still totally delicious.

While the wings were roasting, I whipped up the yogurt sauce in the food processor. So easy: avocado, cup of yogurt, clove of garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper. You probably don't need the food processor (or blender) for this at all if the avocado is nice and soft. Didn't really taste like much on its own, but combined with the wings it was really rich and gave that soothing sensation you usually get from blue cheese, with a lot less fat and calories. Avocados: is there anything they can't do?

Meanwhile, the bok choy recipe is bomb. You heat some garlic in neutral oil, throw in the bok choy stems, let them cook til they lose their crunch, then throw in half a cup of water or stock and let them cook til most of the liquid's evaporated. At the last minute you can throw in the leaves if you like; these just have to soften, really, not cook like the stems. Using my own stock took it to the next level, and if you like bok choy (you probably do), you should try this method out.

Too easy. Overall, this was the perfect Friday night dinner.
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