‘Teach me how to cook’, he said.
Domestic cooks will always shudder at the thought. Despite the fact that writing and sharing recipes like I do means that I do this very thing very regularly, it’s always funny when someone asks you of an evening to teach them how to cook, when what you was planning to cook is so easy.
‘It’s just wings and a salad’, I said.
‘I want to learn’, he said.
‘Fine. Whatever. Watch me then’, I said.
And we commenced the lesson.
Luckily, this recipe is a little bit of a magic trick. It’s the kind of recipe that makes you think you’ve done a lot more than you have because in essence, there feels like a few varied steps. It feels as though you’ve gone through the whole wizadry of kitchen exercises.
In reality all you’ve done is bashed up spices, roasted some chicken, heated up a sauce and chopped up a salad.
Alas, I will not condemn simple recipes (all of mine are) but the eye widening ‘wow’ moment of the student as the plate of wings was put to the table in a cute ‘I made that?!’ manner was enough for me to pat his head and say well done as opposed to say ‘calm down, it’s only wings’.
Unless he’s reading this right now, in which case, well done hun.
But even if you’re not using this recipe as a class for the culinary keen, I urge you to try it. Yes, you will need a Pisa tower of napkins at the ready but isn’t that what good times are all about? I know people are nervous that jerk can be too spicy but by making it yourself, you’re able to control the heat. If you want it milder, go easy on the chilli.
I’m the kind of freak that puts extra Hot Sauce on a jerk wing, but you mind your business.
And this salad, in my humblest, is the perfect accompaniment. Even the Earth walking, fire breathing dragons among us need something fresh on the palette when consuming hot wings and this cooling salad of cucumber, watermelon and mint is the perfect respite in between wings.
Beer. Also, lots of beer.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
In a pestle and mortar, combine the following ingredients. I hate making lists, I never do on this blog unless it’s a commission, but alas, my laziness has got the better of me. Also note where there is a difference between tbs (tablespoon) and tps (teaspoon):
2 garlic cloves
1 tbs ground ginger
1/2 tbs of cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1 tbs paprika
1/2 tbs nutmeg
2 tbs soft, dark brown sugar
1 tbs chilli powder
1 chicken stock cube
A pinch of salt and black pepper
A big pinch of fresh thyme
Grind all of these to a murky paste the colour of wet sand, making sure the garlic is smushed up into the rest of the spices.
Take a pack of chicken wings (yes a whole pack, we’re going there) and take a quarter of this mixture and rub into the wings using your hands, making sure as much of the chicken is coated as possible.
Put the chicken in a baking tray which has been lined with foil (the sauce is a bitch to clean), spacing them apart as much as possible, drizzle with a little olive oil and sling in the oven for 30 minutes.
While it bakes, in the bowl of remaining spices, added a big teaspoon of dark treacle syrup (molasses), a tablespoon of sesame oil, the juice of one lime and a tablespoon of two of water and mix together to create a thick, ebony coloured sauce.
Empty this into a sauce pan and put on the hob. When it comes to a boil, drop to the lowest heat and allow to cook and reduce down to a thick, glossy syrup.
After the 30 minutes is up, take the chicken out of the oven, carefully pour over the treacly hot syrup, give the chicken a bit of a mix around to make sure they are thoroughly coated and sling back in the oven for 15 minutes, turning the heat up to 220c.
In this time prepare your salad which is literally as simple as this. Get some designer salad leaves (from a bag) and throw in a bowl. Chop up some watermelon, throw in the bowl. Chop up some cucumber, throw in the bowl. Rip up some mint leaves, throw in the bowl.
Sprinkle over a little salt and spritz over a little lime juice. Toss everything together. Put on a plate. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds (skip the seeds if you don’t have any, obviously).
Now take out the chicken after the 15 minutes is up and by this point, they will be charcoaled and burnished, blistered with the treacly gloss of the jerk syrup.
Obviously leave them for about 10 minutes to cool down before you apply them to your face and don’t blame me if you burn your face. I’ve done this many times.
Here ends the lesson.