Mike and I recently took a road trip up to Copper Harbor, Michigan. Then we drove back through Minnesota with stops in Duluth, Minneapolis and Rochester before heading back to Chicago. We had two days at home before we left for NYC the following week. It was a whirlwind, it was exhausting and it was incredibly inspiring.
One of the many things I love about traveling is that it opens my mind to new flavors. There’s something inspiring about walking into a new restaurant in a different city and trying something on the menu that is so good, it makes you say, “I need to make this at home.”
This type of “recipe research” happened a lot during our recent travels and there are a couple restaurant-inspired recipes that I am excited to share with you this week. The first one is this recipe for Lemon Garlic Chicken Wings with Cucumber Ranch that we were introduced to at Canal Park Brewery in Duluth, MN.
The best wings are addictive wings. Normally, I’m used to eating them with a smoky dry-rub or a spicy-sweet bbq sauce. When I saw this unique flavor combination on the menu at Canal Park, I was immediately interested. And, when I saw a server walk by with an order of them, I started getting antsy. They looked incredibly good. The slightly spicy lemon and garlic flavor combination dipped into a cucumber ranch sauce is surprisingly refreshing and definitely addictive… just as wings should be.
After we got home, I started researching the recipes. I found what appeared to be a similar version of the wings by Adam and Joanne on the Inspired Taste blog. The only changes I made were that I added honey to the sauce to tame the citrus from the lemon. I also made two batches of the sauce. One for marinating the wings and the other to baste over the wings after pulling them from the grill.
When I started researching recipes for the Cucumber Ranch, I was finding a lot of versions that included sour cream, buttermilk and mayonnaise. Dairy and I aren’t always the best of friends and although I normally love the flavor of a good ranch dressing, I decided to look for a dairy-free version. Thanks to Anjali from the Vegetarian Gastronomy blog, I found an excellent vegan version of cucumber ranch that tastes like the real deal.
Get her recipe here.
I was skeptical at first, but pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. You can use this as a dip, salad dressing or even a sandwich spread. It’s versatile and super delicious. I think this is the first Vegan recipe I’ve ever made.
I’ll be sharing more travel and restaurant-inspired home recipes for you over the next couple of weeks while I also try to get a head start on brainstorming my holiday shopping list. Have you started yet? I’m typically a procrastinator when it comes to holiday shopping, but I’m making a point to get it done early this year.
As always, thank you for sticking around and supporting Up Close & Tasty! It’s so good to be home!
LEMON GARLIC WINGS WITH CUCUMBER RANCH
LEMON GARLIC WINGS
2 pounds chicken wings
3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon, peeled or finely grated
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons of honey
Note: Add honey to balance the citrus from the lemon, to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese for serving
Note: I made two batches of the sauce. One for marinating the chicken and another batch to baste over the wings after pulling them off the grill.
1. Combine garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, mustard, honey, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag.
2. Add chicken wings, seal bag, and turn to coat.
3. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
4. Prepare grill for indirect heat.
5. Remove wings from marinade and place, skin-side-up on grill.
6. Cover grill and cook until fat has rendered and an instant-read thermometer reads close to 165º F, about 10 minutes.
7. Move the wings over direct heat.
8. Grill, turning occasionally, until wings are golden brown and slightly charred, 5 to 10 minutes.
9. Stay close to watch for the occasional flare up. Note: If this happens, move the wings to a slightly cooler part of the grill.
10. Remove wings from grill and baste with the second batch of the sauce.
VEGAN CUCUMBER RANCH
Get the recipe on Vegetarian Gastronomy!
All images © Regan Baroni 2016.