When life gives her lemons, she makes wings

By Cheryl Wixson

When my Meyer’s lemon tree, heavy with fruit, started falling over and out of the pot, I knew it was time to harvest. With the daylight hours growing longer, the spindly branches were practically growing out the window, and new flower buds starting to form. This “tree,” at least 10 years old, spends summers outside on the deck, and then is wheeled into a sunny spot in the living room for winter.

Cheryl Wixson’s Meyer lemon tree produces six to nine lemons per year. CHERYL WIXSON PHOTO

Once the green knob of fruit is set, it slowly grows to lemon-size, and then gradually turns from green, to pale yellow, then a golden, orange-yellow hue. While one crop is ripening, the plant bursts forth with tiny-white and very fragrant blossoms and starts a second round. In the depth of winter, fresh citrus brightens the spirit and enlivens all types of food. We are fortunate to harvest six to nine lemons a year.

The latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine inspired me to prepare Lemon Chicken Wings. The wings are marinated in a zesty, bright, fresh lemon dressing, baked until crispy and golden brown in the oven and then tossed with a lemon-feta dressing.

Although often thought of as an appetizer food, chicken wings can be enjoyed as part of a nutritional meal. Who doesn’t love the crispy skin surrounding the melt-in-your-mouth flesh chewed from the bone? Because the wings need time for the flavors to “marry,” this recipe is easy to prepare in advance. A pan of lemon-infused chicken wings waiting in the refrigerator at dinnertime makes for a quick meal or snack. For the best flavor, marinate the wings for at least two hours or longer. The following recipe serves four for a meal and eight as an appetizer.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” was a phrase coined by American author Dale Carnegie. Carnegie, author of the perennial bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (1936), developed courses in self-improvement and salesmanship. His saying is used to promote optimism and encourage people to work through their disadvantages or setbacks. In a metaphorical sense, it represents someone overcoming their hardships and even using their weaknesses as strengths.

In my book, when life gives me lemons, I’ll make wings!

Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected]

Lemon Chicken Wings

Adapted from a recipe by Mashama Bailey

3 lbs. chicken wings

For the marinade:

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 garlic cloves, crushed

½ cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 tsps. sea salt

2 tsps. dried oregano


For the dressing:

½ cup olive oil

3 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. finely chopped garlic

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Sea salt

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled


Assemble ingredients and tools.

To prepare the marinade:

Grate the rind of the lemon and set aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Strain the seeds from the juice. Remove 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and set aside.

In a small bowl or measure, whisk together the remaining lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil, lemon zest, black pepper, crush garlic cloves, salt and oregano.

Pour the marinade over the wings, tossing well to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the wings, Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil and then set on a wire rack. Arrange the wings on the rack, brushing well with the marinade. Bake the wings, turning occasionally, until nicely browned and crisp about 1 to 1¼ hours.

To serve the wings, whisk together the dressing ingredients including olive oil, reserved lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and black pepper. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the chopped parsley. Pour the dressing over the wings and crumble the feta and scatter on top.


Nutritional analysis per wing (approximate, varies): 246 calories, 24 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams fat, 489 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.




Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.
Cheryl Wixson

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