By now, many of you know that I recently spent a week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with my friend Lori from LittleWhiteApron.com. In addition to her blog, Lori spends a lot of time at Red Stick Spice Co, where she works part-time.
I’ve been the lucky recipient of a few surprise packs from Lori and Red Stick, so I was excited to see the place first hand and pick out a few specialties to take home.Lori says we were in there for about 90 minutes. I had no idea that much time had passed! I became absorbed by the shelves and shelves of gorgeous jars filled with every spice and blend imaginable.
After your eyes, your nose will also draw you in and keep you there. Spices are powerful stuff, especially these ones.
The owner, Anne Milneck, is also a trained chef, and goes to extraordinary lengths to source the highest quality ingredients – the ones she wants in her kitchen – and the ones I want in mine.
An inventory which includes a lot more than spices, I should add. I had myself quite the little spree in that hour and a half, picking some choices out myself, and others with the help of Anne and her knowledgeable staff.
My bounty: blood orange-infused avocado oil, pecan oil and jalapeno-infused olive oil. I have yet to use the avocado oil, but I’ve taken advantage of the high smoke point of the pecan oil to do some delicious deep frying, and the flavour and aroma of the jalapeno olive oil are beyond my powers of description.
On the dry goods side, I picked up an old favourite, Ghost Salt. Infused with the Bhut Jolokia, aka ghost pepper, this is one HOT salt, and perfect as a garnish on all your favourite spicy dishes. Smoked peppercorns, the biggest nutmegs I’ve ever seen and a collection of some wonderfully salt-free blends also came home with me.
One of the suggestions from Anne was Papa Jeabert’s Spice de Terre, a blend from Lafayette containing the Peter Pepper, grown exclusively in Louisiana. I put a tablespoon in my first attempt at Lori’s chicken and sausage gumbo over the weekend, and it changed my life.
I’m not kidding. The flavour, the heat, everything. It was as close to perfection as a Canadian can get when it comes to gumbo. (Want the recipe? Bug Lori. She needs to put it on Little White Apron, and I’m sure if you whisper in her ear, she’ll put it on her list of things to do!)
if you’re in the States or Canada, and want the best for your kitchen, Red Stick’s entire selection is available on-line here.
These wings are the perfect compliment to my Red Stick post. After all, it was Anne that first introduced Lori, then me, to the recipe for Zuni Chicken, which is probably the best roast bird you’ve ever had (and served with the accompanying bread salad, makes a low-labour Sunday dinner to regale your family with).
One of my favourite parts of that chicken are the wings, which get super crispy, and I found myself wondering what a batch of just those would taste like.
Pre-salting the chicken is the secret. I reduced the amount of salt/pound from the Zuni recipe by half, lest they be overpowering, and mixed in one of Red Stick’s salt-free seasonings for extra flavour.
I’ll sum up the results by saying I won’t need the pecan oil to fry my wings, cause I finally got baking them just right. Read the full technique below to make your own.
Toss 1 Tablespoon kosher salt and your chosen seasonings with 2 pounds of split chicken wings. (Suggestions: cayenne, chili flakes, lightly ground fennel or cumin seeds, or your favourite spice blend) . Arrange the wings on a rack set in a baking pan and set, uncovered, in the fridge for 1 to 3 days.
Bake the wings at 350° F for 45 minutes, until they release easily from the rack without sticking. Flip, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until browned, crispy and delicious.
Toss with wing sauce if you like, and serve with your choice of dipping sauce, which in my case is blue cheese.
Enjoy, and fight off those that would take more than their fair share!