Saturday, August 17, 2013

Roadside Chicken Wings

Last Friday, Trevor and I hoped across the Smoky Mountains to see my parents at their and my sister's cabin in the Franklin area.

When it was time for lunch we wanted to go simple and just enjoy our time together.  We had an impromptu picnic in the back yard with a menu of sweet Silver Queen corn on the cob, a salad with homemade honey-mustard dressing, warm rolls and this grilled chicken which reminded me of roadside chicken.

I'm a fan of roadside chicken.  It is also called church chicken because it is a common recipe served at fund raisers and church covered dish gatherings.  Typically, the chicken is marinated for hours in a marinade of vinegar, oil, and  seasonings then grilled over open pits.

This version is faster because it skips the marinade and is simple, it only has 6 ingredients.   My mom got this recipe from Joyce Thompson shortly after my family moved to Florida (I was yet to be born) in 1967.  Joyce got it from her aunt in Mississippi and it was just called "BBQ sauce".

grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings

Anytime that I am cooking chicken pieces with skin on, I like to grill it over a lower temp fire for a longer period of time in order to avoid flare ups, avoid burning the skin, and to properly render all of the fat.   You can use it on whatever chicken pieces you like, but we enjoyed it with wings twice this week.

Roadside Chicken Wings

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min

Ingredients (12 wings)
    You'll Need
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 4-6 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 Tbsp Morton's Season-all or other all purpose seasoning
    • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
    • 3 lbs chicken wings whole
    Recommended Equipment
    • long handle tongs
    • long handle basting brush
    • fast response cooking thermometer
    • timer
    1. Preheat a charcoal grill to medium low heat (300-350f). If grill is adjustable, increase the distance between coal and food by either lowering the coal tray or raising the cooking grates. Make sure grate(s) is cleaned and lightly oiled.
    2. Place the butter, oil, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp all-purpose seasoning in a grill safe pan and stir until the butter is melted and combined. Move off heat but keep warm.
    3. Season the wings with the remaining all purpose seasoning and pepper.
    4. Place wings on the grill and cook 5 minutes, then flip and cook another five minutes.
    5. Now lightly baste (excess dripping onto coals will cause flare ups and greasy soot) the wings and keep flipping every 5 minutes until golden brown and reach an internal temperature of 175-180f. Because we are cooking at a lower temp and further from coals, this could take about 20-30 minutes.
    6. TIP: To avoid the inevitable dripping and flare ups, move the chicken to a quarter sheet pan or other container and baste, then return to over the hot coals.
    Powered by Recipage

    wings on a kettle grill, grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings
    At the cabin I cooked the chicken on a Weber OTS that has been there for ages, still works like a champ.  There's a reason Weber is the most popular grill around.  Yes, I know it is scandalous for an Egghead to say that.

    grilling tools, thermapen,
    Recommended tools include long handled basting brush, long handled tongs, super fast Thermapen, and a timer.

    season salt comparision
    The recipe called for Season-All but you can use any all-purpose seasoning.  Here are some of my favorites.

    Morton's Season-All:  good balance of salt/celery seed/chiles, bit coarser texture, and gives good coloring to grilled foods since it contains paprika and annatto 

    Lawry's Seasoned Salt:  The "original" to me, it has a finer texture and a more pronounced salt flavor.  Lighter in color so it's good for recipes that you don't want tinted by the paprika or cayenne of the others.

    Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning:  Bold two pronged flavor of salt and heat, this one wakes up many dishes for us.  

    Drapers BBQ AP Rub:  It may have been meant for the grill/smoker but we use this as an all-purpose seasoning on so many things, including a light sprinkle on fried foods just as they come out.  It is our go to all purpose seasoningSadly I'm almost out and Shane is reformulating his AP Rub with his packer so it's temporarily unavailable.

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings
    For some extra flavor, I added 4 Kingsford hickory Briquets to the already burning coals.

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings
    Chicken with skin on often causes flare ups.  The lower temp and raised cooking grate help minimize this but you still may have to shuffle pieces around.

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings
    You can baste directly over the coals but the dripping oil will cause smoldering, sooty fires.  I prefer to remove wings to a tray, baste, and put back on the grill.

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings
    If you do baste over the coals, shake off the excess from your brush and baste lightly.

    bug-a-salt fly killer
    Trevor hunting for flies with our Bug-A-Salt gun.  Too much fun.

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings

    The spread at my parents' cabin.  Simple but delicious.

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings

    grilled chicken wings, roadside chicken wings, marinated chicken wings
    These aren't fancy but dang are they good!

    Here is a great chance to check out some of the best BBQ around.  What is the difference between a BBQ contest and a BBQ festival?  Primarily in a contest, the only people eating BBQ are the judges and a festival is about feeding the crowds, celebrating all things BBQ.  The organizers have pulled together an all star line up of teams to feed throngs of hungry festival goers including:
    • Melissa Cookston - world champion, restauranteur, winner BBQ Pitmasters Season 3 and current judge on BBQ pitmasters
    • Moe Cason - owner/operator of Ponderosa BBQ, BBQ Pitmasters finalist, appeared on Smoked
    • Carey Bringle - Peg Leg Porkers, BBQ Pitmasters, and just opened a restaurant in Nashville
    • Shelly Hunt - Desperados BBQ Angola, NY
    • Craig Kimmel - Fire House BBQ, BBQ Pitmasters finalist, Food Truck Challenge
    •  Brad & Cindy Simmons - Lucky Dog BBQ of Danville, KY
    • Shane Draper - owner and operator of Drapers BBQ, my favorite all purpose BBQ rub

    Shane and the other organizers have made this an event FOR THE PUBLIC.  There will be music, food, cooking demos, and other great activities.  They will also have a "backyard" cooking contests which are fun because it is strictly first timers only, no ringers.  You don't want to miss this one, I am looking forward to it.


    1. That plate of food looks gourmet delicious. I must try that chicken soon.

    2. Do I see Trevor with a FSU shirt? I am a Gator living in Tallahassee and it can be brutal.

      Good times and good food. Who can ask for more~


    3. I'm trying Bobby Flay's slow grilled chicken tomorrow - hopefully it works well - because I am always fighting so many flare-ups and totally burned skin!

    4. What a great meal Chris. Thanks for the tip about lowering the temperature to keep the skin from burning on the chicken. Cool photo of Trevor with his "gun."

      Meakin has yet to get his Thermapen, but boy do we need it.

    5. I declare next weekend grilled wing weekend in Michigan. I have my drumsticks down so I will move "up the bird" to wings. And they do look "fancy" to me...

    6. Now I want some wings - they look great!

    7. Oy, the flare ups drive me crazy, but granted I'm not cooking it on a low heat so maybe I'll try that next time. The chicken looks so good and the skin perfect!

    8. Perfect looking chicken in my book - and the more simple it is, the better it is when you are enjoying family like that that!

    9. I haven't thought about roadside chicken in a while. Your wings look delicious and good tip about cooking over lower heat. You are too funny though - "When it was time for lunch we wanted to go simple and just enjoy our time together." Around here those words mean a bologna sandwich - fried if we want to go all out :-).

    10. First of all, the chicken looks perfect. I like that you cook it on a lower heat to prevent burning the skin.

      Second, Trevor looks like he has grown a foot!

    11. Love roadside chicken but have never tried it with wings. Those photos are so good they're making me hungry even though I just ate lunch.

    12. Chicken looks spectaular and I've got to commend you on your beer choioce. Can't go wrong with a cold Shiner.

    13. Have you tried adobo to season your wings?


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