St. Patrick’s Day is the one day of the year when everyone can be a little Irish.
I’ve enthusiastically held that sentiment from the time our children were little. It gave me an excuse to turn an otherwise ordinary March day into an occasion for our family to celebrate.
The boys went off to school wearing green shirts, knowing that when they returned home, our dinner table would be decorated with green placemats and shamrock paper napkins. Green and white crepe paper streamers would be draped across the ceiling, and freshly-baked shamrock cookies or a cake garnished with buttercream and swirls of green frosting would be waiting for them.
While thousands gathered in bars and pubs to sip green beer, we gathered around our family table for a hearty meal that more often than not included green mashed potatoes – a carryover of a St. Patrick’s Day joke my older sister played on our parents when I was about 8 years old.
To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed our little family celebrations as much as my husband and sons. I’m a party girl at heart, so executing the decorations and planning a fun meal for our family has always been right up my alley. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all about creating special memories for guests, especially when those guests are my family.
Our sons are now grown, so this year we’re planning a small-but-festive, cocktail-time celebration with friends. Green and white streamers may still be involved, but my buffet menu will be centered around small bites – a selection of Irish cheeses, a charcuterie board, marinated olives, dried fruits, an assortment of crusty breads, and the most amazing Guinness buffalo wings.
The delicious secret to these irresistible wings results from reducing a mixture of Guinness stout, honey, prepared barbecue sauce, and a few other flavorful ingredients on the stove until they form a syrup.
The wings are partially cooked in the oven, brushed with the syrup, and then cooked until the syrup becomes a dark glaze. They can even be prepared one day ahead and reheated briefly in the oven – an excellent option on a busy day. I may only be Irish in my heart, but that’s reason enough for me to hang streamers, display a shamrock on our door, and invite friends to this month’s St. Patrick’s Day party.
Guinness Buffalo Wings
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ cup sweet onion, peeled and diced
4 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 11-ounce bottles Guinness stout
¼ cup prepared barbecue sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 family-size package chicken wings (about 15)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cover two large cookie sheets with foil. Trim off tips of wings and discard. Cut through each wing at the joint, and transfer sections to the cookie sheets. Bake 30 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees, turn wings over, and cook 15 minutes more.
While the wings are cooking, sauté onion in olive oil until it’s soft, stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Stir in honey, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar and Guinness. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to maintain a slow boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half. Strain the mixture over a clean saucepan and discard any solids. Add prepared barbecue sauce, stir, and continue cooking until the sauce becomes very thick.
Brush some of the sauce over the wings and bake 5 minutes. Turn them over, baste, and bake 5 minutes more. Remove wings from the oven, transfer them to a platter, and serve hot or at room temperature. Pour the remaining sauce into a small bowl for dipping.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings