I have a thing for chicken wings. Yes, I might be a French-trained chef and I have the ability to make complicate sauces and all that. But I love chicken wings. Hot wings, savory wings, smoked wings, you name it. They’re a great vehicle for virtually any flavor profile.
So when I was going to sit down with food journalist Robyn Eckhardt for the remarkable book Instanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey and I saw she had a recipe for wings, I thought, “Done. That’s the first recipe I’m going to try.” We ate them as part of the conversation we had for my podcast, Hungry for Words. You can listen here.
This is her version of the not-too-spicy savory chicken wings found on huge rotisseries throughout Istanbul’s famed Tahtakale Market, Istanbul’s famed spice bazaar. Even a modest stalls may sell hundreds of pounds of wings a day. She notes the wings are generally accompanied by a few traditional sides: grilled green chiles, sliced onions and tomatoes along with a bulgur pilaf and dimpled flatbreads. The wings are first tenderized in a bath of vinegar and onion, then coated in a seasoned olive oil. Having made these several times now, there are two keys: the vinegar/onion marinade and the accompanying salt.
Click the cover to listen to my chat with Robyn
The recipe calls for Aleppo chili pepper which can be tricky to find. I get mine from World Spice in Seattle. You can substitute red pepper flakes. I prefer using oregano to thyme or a blend of the two in this recipe.
She recommends against barbecuing these and I agree; a hot oven will best mimic the rotisserie flavor. These are best cooked on a large cooking sheet fitted with a cooling rack. If you don’t have one, a broiler pan works fine. Neither? A plain cookie sheet works, just turn them regularly while cooking. I admit, we usually just eat the wings alone, but you can make a meat of them if you serve with some flatbread, a savory grain and sliced onions, tomatoes and cucumber. They reheat fabulously.
Turkish Market Chicken Wings with Chili-Thyme Salt
- Baking sheet
- Cooling rack
- 16 chicken wings (about 2 lbs/1 kilo)
- 1 medium onion
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or dried red pepper flakes
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme or oregano
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Gratethe onion or pulse in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine with thevinegar and salt and stir to combine. Add the wings and toss to coat. Cover thebowl and marinate overnight or for at least four hours, jostling the wings fromtime to time. To save space in your fridge, you can transfer to a well-sealedplastic bag.
- Combinethe olive oil, chili flakes, cumin, thyme or oregano and sea salt in a largebowl. Remove the wings from the tenderizing marinade, pat dry with paper towelsand add to the bowl. Stir or toss with tongs until the wings are coated withthe new marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to fourhours.
- Ina small bowl, mix the red pepper and the thyme or oregano. Stir in the salt.Set aside.
Roast the wings
- Preheat the oven to 450*F/TKC. Line a baking sheet with foiland top with a oiled cooling rack, or line a broiler pan with foil. Remove thewings from the marinade and roast for about 10 minutes. Using tongs, turn andcook an additional 10 to 15 minutes until well browned and cook through. Servehot with the chile-herb salt.