Wings Are The Thing

By R. Scott Pearson, CEO

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Chicken wings are delicious, whether made for a snack or a full meal. With spicy rub, crispy skin, zesty sauce and some hardwood smoke, they are at their very best!

The spice rub can be sweet, hot, salty and fragrant all at once. For this recipe, we are using Traeger Pork and Poultry rub, with the addition of a well known, but “secret” ingredient to make the skin extra crispy and delicious. The “secret” is baking powder. As in, the stuff of pancakes and biscuits. Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and cornstarch that both have an effect on chicken skin. The sodium bicarbonate raises the ph of the skin and alters the protein to promote better browning and helps the skin crisp better. The cornstarch draws moisture out of the skin and helps to form a crispy coating.

My package of wings had 13 whole wings in it. I cut them into tips, drummies and flats. I boiled the tips to make broth, but didn’t use it in this recipe. Six tablespoons of Traeger Pork and Poultry mix, one tablespoon of Kosher salt, plus one tablespoon of baking powder made a nice spice rub. It’s best to put the rub on several hours before cooking. Overnight works great. Place the wings on a rack on top of a jelly roll pan to get air circulating on all sides. Leave them in the fridge uncovered until ready to cook so that the skin and rub can dry. This helps to make them extra crispy.

To get maximum smoky deliciousness, cook on 225ºF for up to an hour. If your Traeger has Super Smoke, now is the time to use it. If not, you will get good smoke flavor when cooking on the 225ºF setting. During this hour, the fat will be rendering from under the skin and the wings will be soaking up smoke flavor. The amount of time is flexible, so you can serve them any time after the first half hour. This is nice for picnics, family get-togethers, or game day snacks. About 15 minutes before you want to serve them, set the Traeger to High or 425ºF. They are cooking fast at this point, so check every few minutes and make sure they don’t burn.

I prefer to serve them with sauces on the side. Traeger Sweet and Hot is a favorite, as is Sugar Lips Siracha. You can serve wtih Apricot for those who don’t like the heat.