While I absolutely remember over-eating myself on the evenings my family enjoyed pizza for dinner, what comes to mind most vividly when I think about childhood meals is those nights my mom would make what she called, “Chinese chicken wings.” We couldn't get enough. We never had leftovers. You bet we over-ate those nights.
My mom would start this meal at least a day in advance, unpacking tons of little wings into large containers filled with a home-made marinade. The wings would sit in the marinade all day. I would open the fridge and see those wings bathing in their sauce on the bottom shelf and feel an overwhelming anticipation for the dinner to come. And when it was over? It was like Christmas being over; so much anticipation and waiting and, like the paper wrappings and open boxes left on Christmas morning, there would be nothing left but empty baking dishes and naked bones on our plates.
This month's theme for “Go ahead honey, it's gluten free” is food from our childhood, for which I created a Chinese chicken wing recipe somewhat reminiscent of those delicious wings mom used to make. For some reason, I've never asked her for the recipe, though I assume it involves soy sauce, sugar, and perhaps many other things I shouldn't be eating.
The theme this month is amazingly appropriate, with the start of the holiday season, which, for me, has always meant spending time with family. In the last few years, since I moved to Portland, it has also meant seeing old friends I haven't seen in a while. And, as I grow increasingly homesick this year, knowing I won't be seeing my family for the holidays, it's nice to cook comfort food that reminds me of home.
Chinese chicken wings:
Ben and I made a small amount of these, just for us. If you are cooking for a family or a holiday party (these would be great appetizers), increase the amounts to your needs.
2 pounds chicken wings
3 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
2 tablespoons honey or agave or brown rice syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
dash sea salt
1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Trim and discard wing tip. Cut wings at the joint and place in a large bowl. Add the above ingredients and mix well to coat.
Heat oven to 375F and line a baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper (for easy clean-up).
Place the wings in a single layer in the baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes.