At Chasing Tides, we love surfing, we love fishing, and we love great stories about people getting out there pursuing their passions. We also love beer and food, in particular food you can cook on a grill. One of our favorite food items for the grill are chicken wings. Juicy, saucy, and of course crispy chicken wings. Below is my chicken wing journey and a recipe for how I currently serve them wings up.
Throughout life you have experiences that ultimately change the mission and trajectory of your path in life. For example, riding a wave for the first time changed my life forever. Heck, fighting my first striped bass when I was six years old has kept me chasing that feeling my entire life. But, one, not as well documented, experience that has impacted my life was the first time I tried a buffalo wing. I’ll never forget the first time that I laid my hands on that crispy, saucy, and tangy little morsel at Tully’s in Baltimore, MD circa 1998.
The impact those first wings had on my tastebuds has been unmatched by almost anything else I’ve sunken my teeth into. So much so, that as I got older and learned to cook, I was constantly trying to make and perfect my own buffalo wings. I’ve made hundreds of attempts baking them, frying them, and grilling them, and sometimes a combination of methods in one preparation.
Here's a fun fact that I learned early on in my cooking life; oil doesn’t bubble until food is dropped into it. Ol pubescent Tim, while pulling the lid off a pan full of oil to see if it had started “bubbling” yet, found out oil does not bubble on its own and oxygen mixed with hot oil means fire. The heat I felt on my face matched with the sound of my mother’s scream as the flame just about reached the ceiling are two things I’ll never forget on my journey to wing mastery. Also, oil is scary. Use baking soda for grease fires.
Since that almost disastrous day, I have come across and modified a few different go-to ways to cook wings. Currently, I am obsessed with using my Traeger wood pellet grill. The flavor these grills infuse into the wings is next level. Being able to smoke the wings on a low heat first and then crank up the heat to take the wings to their crispy promise land is a one-two punch every wing eater should try. The result is a flavorful, crispy, fall off the bone chicken wing. For the recipe listed below, I love using Traeger’s BBQ Hickory pellets to infuse some extra flavor.
Now that we have covered structural integrity, let's talk sauce. The sauce is the gatekeeper to the smoky and crispy funhouse that awaits you in every bite. Sauces can be spicy, sweet, tangy, smoky, or a mixture of all of them, and trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve come to the determination that not one sauce is the best, so I started mixing my two favorites together; BBQ and Hot Sauce. Add a little honey to the mix and you’ve got a nice sauce that will caramelize nicely on a grill.
I have taken the time to compile a list of ingredients, directions, and a step-by-step gallery below in order to invite you on my Traeger wing making journey. This will not be the last wing recipe that I share. Enjoy!
Pellets: Traeger Hickory Wood Pellets
1. If you’ve bought whole wings, then cut off the tips and cut into wing and drumstick portions. Or don’t, and cook them things whole.
2. Toss with Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Ranch seasoning. I’m not a scientist and it may not be difficult, but the fact they put two of the best flavors ever into seasoning form deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.
3. Preheat Traegerl to 225F. Let the grill stabilize at that temperature for 15 minutes or so before putting wings on.
4. Place wings on to grill grates and let smoke for 30 minutes.
5. While the wings are smoking, mix the BBQ, Hot Sauce, Old Bay, and Honey into a delicious “buffaque” sauce. Mix sauce to suit your taste. Ie. more BBQ if you like that or more hot sauce if you want the heat.
6. Once wings have smoked, flip them, then crank the grill temperature up to 400F and let the wings cook for another 15 minutes.
7. At this point, the wings should be approaching that golden crispy goodness look. Take them off the grill and put them in a shakable container and add your sauce. Shake well, but not too well that you have some of the meat fall off your wings. Place back onto the grill for another 5-8 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them. You can flip them again during this time to get an even char/grill mark.
8. The wings are done when they’ve got that caramelized, yet saucy look to them. Trust me, you’ll know.
9. Serve with ranch or blue cheese and, of course, a special beer.
*Disclaimer, not a measurement guy. Use your eyeballs and wing it. Get it?*