Wouldn’t ya like to know Wood? Wood ya?

Ok, so I took the entire winter off from BBQ  (I know, can you believe it!) and I am finally out of my Vitamin D deficient seasonal depression.  Why you ask?  BBQ Season is back here in the Northeast!    BOOYA!

To get us smokin’ again, I wanted to take on a subject dear to my heart.  Wood!

For BBQ specifically (ahem, not what some of you thought, eh?)  Anywho, BBQ is all about heat control and flavor pushed to the max.  Different wood combinations and usages are great ways to pump up the flavor volume without the need for sauces.  Sauces can always be added earlier or later (there are no wrong answers here) but wood gives something magical to BBQ.

I love the smoke flavor imparted by wood in all my BBQ’d foods.  My favorite for chicken is using lump hickory dry with wet apple chips during the later parts of cooking.  I soak the apple chips in water with ~ cup of bourbon added for a little extra sweetness.

Is the bourbon really necessary?   No – you could use apple juice or just plain water.  I just like the way it smells when cooking and the extra moistness in my BBQ’d meat.  Maybe I even take a sip or two during the smoking’ process…maybe.

Prep Note – Cover your wet smoking wood completely with liquid and let set 15-20 minutes to ensure moisture penetration.    Use only small amounts of wet wood at a time so you don’t kill your fire and temperature.  My rule is when the temp is getting too high – use the wet chips to cool it down rather than the dampers – more flavor and more fun!

As we go thru the summer, I’ll continue to post recipes, tirades and general observations about different wood combinations…like the big question if wet wood is even necessary for good smoked BBQ…does Mesquite count as a wood flavoring and much, much more.

The Don has a bunch of great tips and tricks on this topic so stay tuned.

Remember that whatever you do is going to be great!    Try different combinations and have fun.  It’s BBQ for goodness sake.

Now get out there and smoke em’!

Italian Style Grilled Chicken Wings

Now that football season has officially kicked-off.  I want to share with you one of my favorite chicken wing recipes.  These wings are prepared on a grill; so while maybe not “barbecue”, still a tasty treat to include in your football food repertoire!  They are very easy to prepare and are great for tailgates, and always a crowd favorite, right along side my spicy baby back ribs and baked beans.

Prep time:
prepping the chicken wings and marinade will take about an hour (much less if you buy the wings pre-separated
let the wings sit in the marinade for any where from 30 minutes to 3 hours
cooking time about 40 minutes – this includes pre-heating

What you’ll need:

8 – 10 lbs. Chicken Wings (separated at the joint with the tips removed) about 36 – 45 pieces.  You can buy the wings pre-separated or do it yourself – it’s very easy. One HUGE point here – DON’T FORGET TO WASH YOUR WINGS! Rinse them well in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 corse ground “butchers” black pepper
1 cup dried rosemary (rosemary is probably the only herb that is more potent in its dried state)
2-3 medium heads of garlic – coarsely chopped
1 cup olive oil – no need to use OVOO since this is going on the grill but please do not use vegetable, canola or corn oil – you want the rich flavor of a good olive oil.

Divide your chicken wings evenly in two large (I use the Hefty 2 gal.) ziplock bags.  Pour a half cup of olive oil into each bag along with 1/4 cup of salt, 1/8 cup of pepper and 1/2 cup of rosemary.  Evenly divide your garlic between the two containers as well.  Seal each bag (making sure to leave plenty of air in the bag – this makes the next step easier).  Vigorously shake each bag until your chicken wings are evenly coated with your marinade.  Then open each bag up slightly and push out all the air you can.  Flatten each of the containers and place them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes if you are preparing these last-minute, otherwise I recommend preparing these 2-3 hours in advance.

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About 40 minutes before you are planning to plate your wings, go spark up your grill.  I use my Weber gas grill for most of my grilling – while you lose the added layer of wood flavor, these wings really don’t need it.  And it takes less time to pre-heat.

Always start with a clean grill, I clean my grill cold with a grill pumice stone, you can pick them up at any hardware store that sells grill supplies or on Amazon or e-Bay.  Just make sure that you remove all the residue before you put any of your meat on the grill.

I like to super heat my grill to about 500 – 600 degrees, this takes about 10-15 minutes depending on the outside temperature.

Once your grill is at the desired temperature, evenly distribute your wings on the cooking area and reduce the heat to between 1/2 to 1/4 – you want to get your cooking temperature to around 300 – 350.  Keep an eye on your wings and turn often until both side are golden brown with a slight char.

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Then just plate them up and watch them disappear!

Personal notes:

To brine or not to brine?  I have brined my wings for this recipe in the past but really did not see any marked difference in tenderness, succulence, or size.  So I will leave it up to you whether you want to do so or not.  If you do choose to brine your wings, do so over night and use a simple brine of just salt; you don’t want to take away from the garlic and Rosemary flavors of this dish.

Buon Appetito!

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The Don