- 2 4-lb packages chicken wings (about 36 wings)
- 1 cup, brown sugar
- 1/2 cup, ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup, kosher salt
- 1 13 oz bottle, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 stick, unsalted butter
This one was pretty straight-forward: I mixed the sugar, cayenne, and salt together, creating my rub, rubbed the chicken wings, cooked at 200 degrees in the smoker for 2 hours, tossed them in the sauce mixture (Frank’s, butter, and garlic, brought to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes) and served.
I was pleased with the result, as this was pretty much a straight instinct recipe. My friend Gene, whom I consider to be something of my BBQ mentor, gave me the idea of using a cayenne and brown sugar rub. My dad suggested including the salt. While making the recipe, I had no idea how much to use; the first rub consisted of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of cayenne, and 1 tablespoon salt. After a few wings, it became apparent that would not be enough rub, so I adjusted accordingly.
The smoke gave a good flavor to the wings. For fuel, I used mulberry pellets from BBQrsdelight.com. I recently ordered a sample pack of pellets from their website, both to get a taste of different smoke flavors and to test the pellets in use, as they seem like a pretty good idea in theory. In practice, though, it didn’t seem like I was getting as much smoke as the packages promised. This may very well have been a user error, and I will play around with some of the other flavors to see if we get more smoke, but the actual flavor of the smoke was quite good.
The problem with the recipe, as you can probably tell just by looking at the ingredients, is that I used WAY too much cayenne. Since I didn’t know how far my rub would go, I thought two tablespoons of cayenne would work fine over the course of 36 wings. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account that rubbing 36 separate wings would use a lot of rub. Rookie mistake made by a rookie BBQ’er. I brought these wings to a Super Bowl party, and most of those who attended (except for my Uncle Ed, who loves spicy food) remarked that the wings were too spicy. There was probably more salt in the rub that I had anticipated as well, and would probably cut back on the salt as well. I would probably replace the excess salt and cayenne with garlic powder, perhaps an onion powder as well.
Another issue I had was with the cook time. Having never cooked wings in the smoker, and not going by a recipe, I wasn’t sure how long it would take the wings to cook. My original idea was to cook the wings for 2 hours, add the sauce, and then put them back on the smoker for an additional 15-20 minutes. However, the wings reached temperature after 2 hours; in fact, many of the wings were turning black. Next time, I will probably take the wings off after 90 minutes, sauce them, wrap them in foil, and cook another half hour. Another idea, suggested by my friend John, would be to smoke, sauce, and then grill them, and still another idea I had was to smoke, deep fry, and sauce (as if this recipe wasn’t unhealthy enough). I feel like I have a few different directions I can take these in before I have perfected the recipe.
Overall, I was encouraged by my first attempt at making the wings. I feel like they turned out good, but have some room for improvement. I will spend some time tinkering with the rub recipe until it turns out with a good balance of spice and taste, and I will adjust the cooking time accordingly so that next time, I can cook the wings with the sauce on (which is a style that I personally prefer). Overall, a solid first effort.
Next up: Ribs (probably smoked in the middle of a blizzard)