Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mesquite-Smoked Chicken Wings

City living certainly constrains the outdoor cook. I would love to have room for a gas grill, charcoal grill, smoker, deep fryer, etc, however I could flip burgers on my balcony grill from indoors, that's about how much room I have. Looking for ways to impart more flavor to grilled items, I finally bought one of those smoker boxes and some mesquite wood chips. I thought for the first attempt I would keep things simple, no rubs, brines, or marinades. I wanted pure smoke. Holy sh*t was my grill smoking! The aroma of the chips smoking was amazing. I felt bad for my neighbors, but certainly not for long. Can't wait to try some ribs with this gadget.

I encourage you to buy things as whole and as close to what it actually looks like in nature as possible. Those prepackaged boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Might as well eat paper. If you're gonna buy a chicken, buy it whole and cut it up yourself. You save money and you get better quality. Homemade chicken stock? Yes please. That being said, buy the whole chicken wings so you have some wing tips to throw in next time you make stock. Or, a favorite shortcut of mine is to take low-sodium broth and add the tips and the usual veg and herbage, this will add tremendous flavor to store-bought stock. And if you don't have 8 hours on a lazy Sunday to make stock, use your crockpot. Just be ready to wake up at 3AM hungry and wondering where that delicious aroma is coming from!

Mesquite-Smoked Chicken Wings

Whole chicken wings or drummettes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Spicy Garlic BBQ sauce-

3-4 garlic cloves, slivered
1 ts chili pepper flakes
1 C Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce

No homemade BBQ sauce this time. In a small sauce pan, heat some olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and chili flakes, stir constantly for 30 seconds. Add BBQ sauce, reduce heat to low and barely simmer for 10-20 minutes, keeping warm.

Soak chips in water for 30 minutes.
Separate wings into 3 pieces, save tips for stock. Best way to do this is dislocate the joint, bend the joint over your forefinger by using your thumb and middle finger. Feel for where the joint is dislocated, make a small slice with a sharp knife. Place on cutting board (I hope you are not using your good wooden board for raw chicken) before cutting completely. Don't try to slice through completely while holding. Trust me. Once you slice a few, it's like riding a bike.

Add wings to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Coat evenly with salt and pepper.

Drain the chips and place into a metal box or use heavy-duty foil poked with a few holes. Fire up the grill to about 450°F after coating the grill with non-stick spray or oil. Grill over medium direct heat for about 16 minutes, turning twice. That spray water bottle you always keep near the grill for flare-ups? Yep, keep that handy. If the little guys get a little charred, no worries, the sauce will cover em anyway.

Toss cooked wings in a bowl with the sauce. Top with a little chopped green onion, serve with a blue cheese dip if you wish, but definitely a nice cold beer with these.

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