Life

Time to wing it with Niall McKenna's spicy recipe

Niçoise salad
Niall McKenna

THIS week's recipes provide an equal measure of good and `bad'.

Produce-wise, the quality of fresh local ingredients is still top-notch and the fantastic local salads, Comber potatoes, beans and shallots inspired me to share a great recipe for a simple Niçoise salad.

I always prefer classic combinations so my Niçoise salad uses tuna, but I have been known to substitute this for smoked mackerel or anchovy when at home. I like to serve this dish with a soft egg but I know many people prefer their eggs a little harder. This is a meal in itself and is very easy to do as many of the ingredients will be lurking in the fridge.

The second recipe this week is for chicken wings - a real guilty pleasure of mine.

I have personally tried and tested many a recipe and this one is ideal for the nights you have friends round for a beer. I think we can all agree that 18 won't last very long but this is a great recipe to get you started.

I like my chicken wings spicy but if you follow this recipe you can increase the spiciness based on the amount of cayenne pepper added.

This weekend sees the inaugural Lughnasa International Friel Festival taking place in Belfast. There will be lots of great foodie options to enjoy along with dance and kite workshops and a special performance of Dancing at Lughnasa, so make sure you have a look at what's going on.

Niçoise Salad

Serves 2 to 4

225g small French beans, trimmed

450g mix of baby plum and cherry tomatoes, halved

8 Comber potatoes, cooked, cooled and sliced

4 hard-boiled eggs, halved

1 shallot, finely sliced in rings

4 basil leaves, ripped

1 handful watercress, washed

300g tuna steak

Rapeseed oil to cook

Salt and pepper

For the dressing:

1 tblsp white wine vinegar

6 tblsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, grated

Salt and pepper

Start by cooking off the tuna, pre-heat a pan and place on the heat with a drizzle of rapeseed oil. Season your tuna with salt and pepper and place in pan when hot, seal and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove and place into iced water (this is to stop cooking and retain colour). Remove from water and rub with a little drop of rapeseed oil and place in fridge. When required for salad, remove from fridge and thinly slice across the grain, this will ensure the slices of tuna hold.

Next cook, refresh and drain your French beans. Place your eggs in a pot of boiling water and cook for four minutes, you want the egg white to be hard but the yolk to be slightly soft. Always try and cook your eggs from room temperature, if cooking from the fridge add another minute. Cool, peel and half.

For the potatoes, cook in lightly salted boiling water until the potatoes are soft, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat, refresh in cold water and half.

Place the beans, tomatoes, shallots, egg, potatoes and tuna on plate, dress with the watercress and pour over your dressing (mix the vinegar, oil and garlic, season with salt and pepper and stir, do not over whisk this mixture as it will emulsify like a mayonnaise). Serve and enjoy.

Chicken Wings

18 to 20 chicken wings

8 strips pancetta / smoked streaky bacon

4 tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp dark brown sugar

2 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp cayenne pepper (medium, if you like it spicy add more)

Salt and pepper

Start by heating the oven to 200 deg C and place your pancetta, tomatoes and garlic in a roasting tray and cook for 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove and let cool on the side.

Once cooled, place the cooked pancetta, tomatoes and garlic into a blender, add the sugar, paprika and cayenne pepper and blend until a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the chicken wings in a bowl and cover each wing with the paste, cover the bowl with cling film and place in fridge for up to two hours. Remove and place in a roasting tray and cook in oven at 200 deg C for 20 minutes. Remove and serve with crème fraîche on the side.

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