Sour lime and pomegranate chicken wings
Dried Persian limes come in two shades—black and a sort of walnut-y tan—and are traditionally dropped whole into Persian stews and soups to add a hint of citrus and the singular funk that only fermentation can. I wanted to spread the love to other preparations, so I crushed the limes into a powder to form the base for a dry rub that perfectly counterbalances the fattiness of chicken wings (you can also find dried lime powder on Amazon and Kalustyans.com). Sprinkling the rub on the wings, then letting it sink in, sends that distinctive pucker all the way down to the bone. I arrange the wings on a rack set over a baking dish and roast them until almost done, then brush them with pomegranate molasses for both high gloss and an extra layer of sour power.
Serves 6 to 8, as an appetizer
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours (including minimum marinating time)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 pounds chicken wings (10 to 12 wings)
Juice and zest of 1 lime
4 small dried Persian limes,* or 2 tablespoons Persian lime powder (known as Lemon Omani powder)
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cumin
⅓ cup Pomegranate Molasses
Chopped scallion greens, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil, set a rack on top of the sheet, and grease the rack lightly with vegetable oil. In a large bowl, toss the wings with the lime juice and zest, then arrange them on the sheet, fleshy-side down, leaving space between each wing. Using the heel of a large chef’s knife, smash the Persian limes into a couple of pieces to break them up. In a spice grinder, pulverize them into a fine powder, 30 seconds. Add the turmeric, garlic powder, paprika, salt, sugar, onion powder, pepper, and cumin and pulse the grinder a few more times to create a unified mixture. Sprinkle half the mixture evenly over the wings, pressing it in gently with your hands. Flip the wings then sprinkle and press in the other half of the mixture. If you have time, place the wings in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours (if you have room, leave them uncovered; this helps dry out the skin and crisp it up).
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Leaving the wings on the rack over the baking sheet, bake them until they’re sizzling and the meat is cooked, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the wings from the oven, brush both sides with the pomegranate molasses, arrange the wings fleshy-side up on the rack, and return to the oven until the wings caramelize slightly, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and season generously with salt and pepper.
To serve, transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the scallions and pomegranate seeds.
*If you can’t find dried Persian limes, using only fresh lime juice and zest works great, too.