For the Super Bowl, we decided to make some Buffalo wings. As we’ve posted before, we’ve developed a method for making wings in our Big Green Egg smoker that come out great, without the need to fry them. In our previous post, and in fact every time we’ve made wings in the past, we’ve had guests around and haven’t been able to crank up the heat. We both love really spicy food, and since we weren’t having any company for the game this year, I set out to make some truly spicy wings.
My inspiration for these wings goes back many years to my college days. Every Wednesday night was wings night at a local bar called the Cuckoo’s Nest in Somerville, MA. For a bunch of poor college kids, getting 24 wings for 5 bucks was a great deal, and we would order these almost every week. They had really good wings, which started at medium, went up to ‘suicidal’, and culminated in ‘Chef’s Challenge’. Rumor had it that to get the Chef’s Challenge, you needed to go down to the place and insult the chef, who would then make these for you. In reality, they were happy to deliver them, and we were glad to get them. These were the spiciest wings I think I’ve ever had – but they weren’t just hot. They had a lot of flavor too. You could really taste the spices in the sauce. Unfortunately, this place closed a long time ago, and I haven’t found anything that compares since.
To make the wings, I started with a basic spice rub. I used the Cajun Foreplay rub from the Dinosaur Barbeque, since I had it around, but any good spicy rub will do. I coated both sides of the wings with a healthy dose of the rub, and let it sit for about ½ hour. I then put the wings into our ceramic smoker, the Big Green Egg, using a high heat indirect cooking method. This keeps the chicken nice and juicy and gives the wings a great smoky flavor that is a great compliment to the spicy sauce. You could probably get good results by grilling these direct on a gas or charcoal grill too. I’d cook them at a medium-high heat (400-450 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5-7 minutes per side if doing them direct.
To make the sauce, I started with the classic Buffalo sauce – Frank’s Red Hot and butter. However, to bring this up a few levels, I added several different types of chilies and some sliced garlic cloves, and added a number of spices to the sauce. I let this simmer while the wings were cooking, giving the chili peppers time to infuse their goodness into the sauce. If you want this hotter, you could use more peppers, use all habaneros, or change the mix of spices that goes into the sauce. If you want it milder, you could use jalapenos, or just leave the peppers out and follow our milder, previously posted recipe.
These came out exactly the way I wanted them. The combination of the smoke, rub, and sauce gave these a great flavor, and the sauce had a strong kick to it, without overpowering the taste with heat. I didn’t quite manage to duplicate the Chef’s Challenge wings yet, but these were close, and we happily ate them all. After much begging, we let the dog have a piece, and to our amazement, even he liked it.
Spicy Grilled Buffalo Wings (makes 3 dozen, which is exactly how many fit on the grate of my large Big Green Egg. Approx. Cost Per Serving not available)
3 dozen chicken wing parts. Note that this would be 18 whole chicken wings. I buy mine from Costco, where 36 whole wings come separated into packs of 6. These freeze easily, so you can always have some on hand.
Spice Rub. You can use your favorite spice rub for chicken here. Try and use something that matches or compliments the peppery flavor of the sauce. I used the Dinosaur BBQ Cajun Foreplay rub, since I happened to have some handy.
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 chili peppers, seeded and cut into medium-sized pieces (I used one habanero and one serrano chili)
2 1/4 cups Franks Red Hot Sauce. You could probably use another Louisiana-style hot sauce, but this is supposedly the ‘authentic’ Buffalo sauce
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- Big Green Egg, or other grill / smoker
- Slotted spoon
- Large bowl
- Prepare the wings. If you are using whole wings, cut off the wing tip and discard. Separate the drumstick from the upper part of the wing. Coat with your spice rub of choice, and let the rub sit for at least 1/2 hour.
- Make the sauce. Begin by melting the butter in a medium size saucepan, add the sliced garlic chili peppers, and any leftover rub from the wings. Sauté the peppers and garlic for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly. Leave on a low heat, and continue to simmer until the wings are ready, or at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Set up your grill for cooking. On my large Big Green Egg, I set up for indirect cooking, using my plate setter legs up, with a drip pan partially filled with water sitting in the plate setter. This is important. I tried this once with an empty drip pan, and got a lot of smoke from the drippings in the pan, which can negatively affect the flavor of the food.
- Add your favorite smoking wood to the fire – I like apple wood for poultry. Stabilize the dome temperature around 400 degrees Fahrenheit and put the wings on the grill. 36 wings should just fit on the main grate of a LBGE.
- Cook for about 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the wings hits 170-180 degrees. This will allow enough time to impart a nice smoky flavor to the wings, and the higher than normal smoking temperature crisps the wings up nicely. In the Egg, the chicken will stay nice and moist. I can’t vouch for other smokers or grills using this method.
- Using a slotted spoon, strain the peppers and garlic from the sauce and discard (we forgot to do this, and it was fine). Remove the wings from the grill and place into a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the wings, and toss to coat the wings evenly. Serve immediately. If you like, you can serve bar-style with a side of blue cheese or ranch dressing and some celery stalks.