SERIOUSLY SIMPLE: Honey-Chili Chicken Wings, a Carmel Valley Ranch classic
Carmel Valley Ranch Honey-Chile Chicken Wings. (Carmel Valley Ranch / February 13, 2013)
On my visit I toured their bountiful garden and met with the beekeeper (they harvest their own honey from an on-site hive). Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy so we couldn't do the whole bee experience. Guests can suit up and go near the hive when the weather is nicer. I am thinking about springtime for another visit when the bees will be cooperative and the lavender will be flourishing.
I also visited the salt house on the side of the vegetable garden that dries local Monterey seawater into salt flakes. Executive Chef Tim Wood serves it at the restaurant and even has a garlic-infused salt. He plans all his meals around the garden's bounty and local seafood, poultry and meat.
I enjoyed a winter dinner that included a silken winter squash soup, a salad sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and apple shards, and these honey-chili chicken wings. The wings avoid the deep fryer and instead are broiled or grilled, which turns them super crispy. A soy and honey glaze makes them sweet, sticky and salty. Their kitchen uses locally harvested honey, but you can use orange or sage honey. These wings are simple to prepare and are the perfect dish to make for TV watching (don't forget the napkins) or as fun dish for a casual cocktail party.
Honey-Chili Chicken Wings
4 pounds of chicken wings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Preheat the boiler and set a rack in the center of the oven. In a large bowl, toss the chicken wings with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the wings on a wire rack set over a large, sturdy baking sheet. Broil for 45 to 50 minutes, turning once or twice, until the wings are cooked through and crisp. Watch carefully so they don't burn.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine vinegar, crushed red pepper, honey and soy sauce, and simmer for 3 minutes to create a thicker consistency.
3. In a large bowl, carefully toss the chicken wings with the honey-soy mixture. Transfer the wings to a platter, sprinkle with the scallions and serve immediately.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Parties" (Chronicle, 2012), and also is a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at http://www.seriouslysimple.com.)