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Becky's Jalapeño-Sake Wings

Becky's Jalapeño-Sake Wings

Basically, Becky is a witch. She came to Earth in a hot pink convertible and learned to levitate by age 13. She can also see into the future: She once told me that years later, you would make these wings for your friends at a "tailgate" (whatever that is).

They would ask for the recipe, so here it is.

To be honest, these aren't actually Becky's wings; they're her mother Julia's, who grew up in Argentina as many Korean immigrants did in the late twentieth century. Julia is a witch too, but her cuisine is an embodiment not of her spicy Wiccan blood, but of the social, cultural, and historical coalescence of diasporic culinary narratives: here, the fresh and gutsy South American (jalapeño, cilantro) with the sweet and acerbic Asian (sake, rice vinegar).

Who knew that someday, in America, Julia's daughter would make these wings when she's "home alone and lazy, or for cousins because they keep asking for them"? Who knew, even, that a witch could be lazy?

Marinade:
4 jalapeños (1 whole, 3 deseeded)
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for later
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
2 pounds chicken wings

Relish:
4 jalapeños, deseeded, finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
large pinch sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
handful fresh cilantro, chopped

For the marinade: Blend all the ingredients, save for the chicken obviously, in a food processor and pour into a resealable plastic bag with the wings. Shmoosh around and marinate overnight.^

The next day, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and remove the wings from their marinade. Blot with paper towels to dry them the best you can, and allow to continue drying and coming to roomish temperature as the oven preheats. When the oven is piping hot, toss the chicken in some oil (olive is fine, vegetable is better); season again with salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper; and bake for an hour or until bronzed on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.

Meanwhile, for the relish: Stir all the ingredients together, season to taste (if it needs more vinegar or sugar, add it), and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve. It's important to let this sit for an hour at least so the flavors can meld and the spiciness from the jalapeños can mellow out. (In other words, make this while the chicken cooks.)

^A tip I learned from a pretty boy named Shane: Whenever you're marinating anything in a plastic bag, "vacuum-pack" it (i.e., before zipping all the way, suck the air out with your mouth) and submerge it in a bowl filled with water. The pressure from the water will maximize marinade–protein contact and ensure that your meat is flavorsome and well-tenderized.

Jalapeño Chicken and Watermelon Tacos

Jalapeño Chicken and Watermelon Tacos