Since starting the chicken wing experiment a few month’s ago, I think I finally found a recipe that is the perfect fit for my taste and can be easily reproduced. As you may know, I like to look at the science and technique associated with various cooking processes. I also enjoy cooking in my smoker and am looking for ways to eat healthier. This definitely balances those aspects.
I wouldn’t consider chicken wings healthy at all but as a treat, these are a go-to for me. I was trying to find the correct balance to get the crispy skin as you would get by deep-frying them, but didn’t want to do that. This recipe is the combination of two recipes from people that I follow regularly.
Susie Bulloch is a great resource for BBQ and grilling recipes. Her recipes are very precise and accurate in my opinion. She gives very good estimates on time and temperature. I used the first part of this recipe to get the smoke-taste (with a few variations). I smoked the wings at 225 for approximately 30 minutes (just enough to get smoky taste). Here is the link to that recipe.
A few of the modifications I made were based on J Kenji Lopez Alt. He has some excellent blogs, videos, and a book on the science behind cooking. He does the same as Susie in regards to tossing the wings in baking powder and salt but he also adds corn starch. The corn starch and the baking powder help dry the skin so it will crisp up. In my previous experiments, I gave up on using only baking powder on its own because I thought it gave too much of a chemical/acid taste. This may have been due to me using too much of it, but I like the idea of using a combination of corn starch and baking powder together. I think the corn starch will offset any bad taste from the baking powder.
Another aspect to J Kenji Lopez Alt’s process is putting the wings in the refrigerator uncovered (on a rack) at least a few hours (preferably overnight)
Here is a video describing his technique.
1 Pound of Wings
1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch
1 Tablespoon of your Favorite Seasonings (BBQ/Poultry)
1. Line a large bowl with paper towels and pour the chicken wings into bowl.
2. Using more paper towels on the top of the chicken wings, dry the wings from both sides and dab to get them as dry as you can.
3. For each pound of chicken wings, use 1 tablespoon (each) of baking powder, corn starch, and seasoning. Sprinkle across the chicken and mix it around in your hands to incorporate fully. Ensure all sides (of the wings) are covered. I noticed that if I have too many chicken wings in the bowl, it is more difficult to coat both sides of the wings. If this is the case, do in smaller batches or use a larger bowl.
4. Place the chicken wings on a baking sheet preferably with raised racks. Put in the refrigerator overnight (preferably)
5. Preheat smoker to 250, fill water-pan and smokebox (I prefer applewood). Cook the wings in the smoker for approximately 45 minutes.
This next part depends on the type of smoker that you have and where the heat is coming from. I usually cook with the heat coming from the top of my electric smoker (some electric smokers can have heat from top and bottom). In a charcoal or wood smoker, the heat will be from the bottom. You may notice that the part of the skin that is facing the heat is starting to get crisp but the other side may still be soggy.
If your heat is only coming from top or bottom, flip wings over and also rotate pan 180 degrees.
If heat is coming from both top and bottom, just rotate the pan 180 degrees.
If your wings are on multiple racks, you may want to move the trays around as well (move tray to different level).
6. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and use the top-middle rack position.
7. Brush both sides of wings with olive oil or your favorite BBQ sauce.
Cook the wings for approximately 5 minutes and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Continue cooking on this side until the wings are nice and brown (usually another 5 minutes or so).
8. Flip the wings. Cook for another 5 minutes and rotate the pan 180 degrees. Continue cooking until this side is nice and brown (usually another 5 minutes or so).
9. When the wings are finished, I like to put them in a bowl and toss them with some olive oil and poultry seasoning or some Buffalo Sauce.