Nashville hot chicken meets the buffalo wing. Smoked chicken wings with a fiery hot pepper sauce. Spicy, smoky, with a little touch of sweetness from the brown sugar.
- Yield: Makes 32 pieces, serving 6 to 8 as an appetizer
- Equipment: 1-1/2 cups hardwood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained (optional)
For the wings:
- 16 whole chicken wings (about 3 1/2 pounds)
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt (sea or kosher)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the Nashville Hot Chicken Baste:
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon celery salt
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt (sea or kosher)
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil, such as peanut or canola
- 6 tablespoons butter, diced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives and/or cilantro
Step 1: Cut the tips off the wings and discard or save them for stock. Cut each wing into 2 pieces through the joint, yielding the drumette and the flat.
Step 2: Place the chicken wings in a large bowl or on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano, and pepper flakes. Stir so the spices coat the wings evenly. Stir in the olive oil. You can grill the wings right away, but you’ll get a better flavor if you marinate them for 2 hours in the refrigerator before smoking.
Step 3: Make the Nashville Hot Chicken Baste: Place the cayenne, sugar, garlic powder, paprika, and salts in a heavy saucepan and whisk to mix. Cook over medium heat until the spices smell fragrant, 3 minutes. Whisk in the oil and butter and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Step 4: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and build a medium fire (325 degrees). Brush and oil the grill grate. Or set up a smoker according to the manufacturer’s directions and preheat to 325 degrees.
Step 5: Arrange the wings skin side up on the grate away from the heat over the drip pan. To add a smoke flavor, add the chips to the coals if using a charcoal grill or place in the smoker box of your gas grill.
Step 6: Indirect grill until the skin is browned and the meat cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes. After 30 minutes, start brushing the wings with Nashville Hot Chicken Baste. Baste once or twice more. To test for doneness, make a slit in the thickest part of the meat of the largest wing. The meat should be cooked through.
Step 7: Pile the wings on a platter. Reheat any remaining baste and pour it over the wings. Sprinkle with chopped chives and/or cilantro. Yeah, you’ll definitely need napkins.