Dish Deconstructed: Table 42's Coal Oven Wings

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The best thing to happen to chicken wings since the invention of hot sauce is the upscale pizzeria. 

Sure, everyone loves Buffalo chicken wings, perhaps the ultimate culinary achievement in turning a pig's ear (or in this case, the useless appendages of a corporate-raised sack of virtually flavorless meat) into a matching set of Louis Vuitton luggage. But after a few times of cauterizing your taste buds with wing sauce and ingesting a year's worth of calories and cholesterol in a single sitting, you may begin to ask the question, "Is this all there is?"

The answer is the upscale pizzeria.  

Why? One, wings, like pizza, make great casual, hand-held comfort food. And, two, most of these haute pie purveyors have a ferociously hot wood or coal-fired oven that can roast the little suckers in no time flat, crisping up the skin and adding a nice hint of smokiness.  

Now, neither you nor I is likely to have a brick-lined monstrosity capable of heating up to 1,000 degrees in our kitchens. But a simple roasting, then grilling, process, whether done indoors or out, can approximate an oven's searing heat. Combine that with the tangy lemon-oregano-caper-Parmesan coating featured at Gary Rack's newish Table 42 in Boca's Royal Palm Place and you may just give up the hot sauce, blue cheese, and celery sticks for good. 

Table 42's Coal Oven Wings
1 package chicken wings (eight count), tips removed; cut into two parts at joint
2 T. fresh lemon juice
4 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or rubbed through microplaner
1 T. fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste 

3 T. olive oil
3 T. Parmesan, grated
1 T. capers
2 scallions, chopped
2 t. lemon zest
 
Combine the first five ingredients and marinate chicken for several hours or (even better) overnight.  

Get an oven or gas or charcoal grill as hot as you can. (If using charcoal, make a fire on one side of the grill only.) Remove the wings from the marinade and season with salt and pepper. Roast over indirect heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is cooked and skin starts to brown. If using a grill, move the wings to direct heat and cook, turning at least once, until skin is crispy and lightly charred, five to 10 minutes, depending on heat. If using an oven, place under broiler. 

To serve, place wings on platter, then heat olive oil in small skillet with capers and lemon zest until they sizzle. Turn off heat, add scallions, and pour over wings. Garnish with grated Parmesan. Screw the blue cheese.

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