Orange-Glazed Chicken Wings

I am always on the look-out for finger food ideas. I don't throw too many dinner parties, but when I do, it's nice to have food to distract my guests from noticing my often lack of preparedness, that I'm still chopping, thawing, and menu-planning in the kitchen. Alcohol can do only so much.

Baked chicken wings are a universal favorite, and there's no shortage of easy ways to prepare them. Glazed with teriyaki sauce. Sprinkled with five-spice powder. Curried. Buffaloed. Doused with five types of five-alarm chili sauces.

This recent preparation from my kitchen is a fruity take, blending orange juice, garlic, and soy sauce for a heady citrus fragrance and flavor.  Although I reduced the marinating liquid and brushed it on for an extra layer of glaze, the wings and drummettes didn't turn out as sticky as I thought they would. All the better for digging in with your hands, and ignoring your hostess in the kitchen sweating bullets over the main course.

Orange-Glazed Chicken Wings

1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 2 oranges) 2 tablespoons grated orange zest 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon sugar 2 pounds chicken wings or drummettes 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, mix together orange juice, orange zest, garlic, soy sauce, and sugar. Add the chicken wings and toss to coat. Chill in fridge for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight for a more intense flavor.

Grease a large baking tray with olive oil. Spread wings on tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Reserve the marinating liquid and set aside.) Bake wings for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, on the stove, simmer the reserved orange marinating liquid until reduced by half, about 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon half the reduced sauce over the wings, turn over, then baste with the rest of the sauce. Bake another 20 minutes until done. Plate and serve.


Pork Medallions with Raisin-Ginger Sauce

What to do when you crave meat with a rich-tasting sauce, but not the feeling of heaviness afterwards? One of the tricks all Chinese cooks use for stir-fries is to mix in a little cornstarch. And cornstarch can be used for more Western-style pan sauces too.

A few nights ago I made pork medallions with a raisin ginger sauce. The dish was easy to whip up; just brown the meat, toss it in the oven to roast, and make the pan sauce while you wait. The sauce is the key to this dish, a nice sweet and tangy alternative to the savory sauces that usually go with roast pork.

Pork Medallions with Raisin-Ginger Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine

Serves 2

1 lb (450 g) pork tenderloin, cut into 4 medallions
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup (120 ml) apple juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons golden raisins
1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water

Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C). Season pork with salt and pepper on each side. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet and cook pork over moderately high heat until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a baking pan and roast in the oven for about 7 to 8 minutes, or until the pork is firm when pressed down.

In the same skillet, add the apple juice, broth, soy sauce, raisins, and ginger, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove from sauce from heat and pork from the oven. Spoon sauce on top of pork.

Serve with a side of steamed greens or other vegetables.