Smoked Whiskey Wings
- 2 dozen whole chicken wings
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 cup Only Sauce, plus more for serving, optional
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, cut each wing in half to separate the flat from the drumette; cut off and discard the tip or save it for stock. Wash the pieces well, pat them dry, season liberally with salt and pepper, and set them aside in a large zip-top freezer bag.
In a small saucepan, whisk the sauce with the whiskey and sugar and bring just to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the mustard. Cool completely. Pour the mixture in the bag with the chicken wings, seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Prepare a smoker with soaked wood chips and heat it to 250°F (see Cook’s Notes). Alternatively, prepare a charcoal grill (see Cook’s Notes) or gas grill (see Cook’s Notes) for smoking and heat it to medium-low heat.
Remove the wings from the marinade and discard the marinade. Place the wings in a large, shallow aluminum pan in a single layer. Place the uncovered pan in the smoker and cook, for 2 hours. Remove the wings from the smoker and serve with more sauce on the side if you like.
How to Prepare a Smoker for Smoking
Smokers are made for smoking, but there is a wide range of options from the charcoal-burning “bullet”-style smokers to the ceramic Big Green egg. In any of these you need to choose which wood you’ll smoke, and I recommend fruit woods because they’re mild in flavor, and high in sap, and generally have fewer impurities in them; you can choose from whatever is easiest to find near you: apple, cherry, grape, and my personal favorite, peach. Soak your wood chips an hour before you plan to light your smoker. Start your charcoal in a charcoal chimney as described above. Place the coals in the bottom third of the smoker (the firebox). Scatter the pre-soaked wood chips on the coals. What I want you to do that you may not already know about is to put a pan of water in the bottom of your smoker. A water pan is not a requirement to cook barbecue; it’s a stylistic touch that I like. I like it because it has a significant benefit: the water pan creates a steamy water bath inside the smoker that helps maintain the meat’s moisture, which is found naturally in its marbling (or fat). The water helps maintain a moist juicy texture in the meat and prevent it from drying out. To set up a water pan, simply fill a medium heavy-bottomed pan (no bigger than a 13 by 9-inch lasagna pan) about halfway with water and place it in the bottom of your smoker. The grill racks (there are usually two) fit above the water pan. Close the lid and monitor the fire until it reaches your desired temperature.
How to Prepare a Kettle or Other Charcoal Grill for Smoking
Take about a cup of your favorite wood chips (I like peach wood, being from Georgia) and soak them in enough water to cover them for at least an hour or, even better, overnight. When you¿re ready to cook, drain the wood chips. Wrap them in aluminum foil and seal the edges; the best description I’ve seen of this technique is to make it like a “burrito”—a packet of soaked and drained wood chips. Using a long wooden skewer or a sharp-tined fork, poke several holes in the top of the packet. Set the packet aside. Then prepare the grill: on a standard kettle grill, bank your charcoal to one side, leaving a cold area for the meat to be placed (an “indirect” heat area, where the meat is not directly over the flame but is still being cooked by it). Then place that packet of wood chips underneath the charcoal. Place the lid on the kettle and control the level of the heat with the kettle grill’s vents, opening them up more to cool the smoker and closing them to raise it.
How to Prepare a Gas Grill for Smoking
Most models of gas grills have either two or three burners that can be controlled individually. Here’s what you do: Take about a cup of your favorite wood chips (I like peach wood, as I mentioned above) and soak them in enough water to cover them for at least an hour or, even better, overnight. When you’re ready to cook, drain the wood chips. Wrap them in aluminum foil and seal the edges; the best description I’ve seen of this technique is to make it like a “burrito”—a packet of soaked and drained wood chips. Using a long wooden skewer or a sharp-tined fork, poke several holes in the top of the packet. Set the packet aside. (Make 2 if you have a 3-burner grill.) On a two- burner gas grill, light only one side; on a three-burner unit, light the two outside burners and leave the middle one cold. Place the packet of wood chips on the lit section (or sections). The flame will smolder the wet chips, producing smoke to cook and flavor your meat. Then you will place your meat on the unlit section of the gas grill and cook it with indirect heat. That’s it. Don’t worry about the grill’s side vents and making them closed airtight; do the best you can to shut them, but don’t worry; none of my smokers are what you’d call “airtight” either. And I win money with my food all the time.