How to Make BBQ Joint’s Smoked Wings with Ranch Dressing

Bourbon, butter, and a brown-sugar rub? Yes, please.

A beacon of grilling-season hope.

Union Market’s Test Kitchen series—a lineup of free demos from stalls like the District Fishwife and DC Dosa—happens every Wednesday, from 6 to 8 PM, tonight through April 8th. On March 25th, BBQ Joint chef/owner Andrew Evans will show off his stuff, including these smoked, brown-sugar-rubbed wings.

Grilling season might seem far, far away on a dreary day like today, but at least this recipe gives us all something to look forward to.

Applewood-Smoked Chicken Wings with a Bourbon Glaze and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Makes two dozen

12 chicken wings, tips removed and split in two parts (should have 24 pieces)

½ cup BBQ seasoning rub, divided (see recipe below)

cup bourbon

¼ cup unsalted butter

3 celery stalks, sliced into thin 3-inch strips

Ranch dressing, for dipping (see recipe below)

1 cup applewood chips

Small disposable aluminum pan

Lump charcoal

Build a lump charcoal fire on one half of your grill. Fill the aluminum pan of the way with water, and place it next to the charcoal—the bottom of your grill should be divided by lit charcoal and water pan. Let the charcoal burn for 20 minutes, then close the lid. You want a 275 degree cooking temperature.

Meanwhile toss the wings with ¼ cup of the rub. Lay them on the grill grate over the water bath. Add the applewood chips to the coals and close the lid. Maintain the 275 degree temperature by adjusting the valves of grill (more air equals hotter fire). After 45 minutes, lift lid and check the wings’ temperature with a meat thermometer. You want the wings to reach 175 degrees (if they’re not there yet, close the lid and check the temperature every 15 minutes).

In the meantime, reduce the bourbon by ½ in a small pot. Whisk in the butter and set aside. When the wings are done, toss them in a bowl with the bourbon butter then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of rub, and toss again until they are well coated.

Serve with ranch dressing and celery sticks.

Barbecue Rub

cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Place all the spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Sift through a medium strainer and store in an air tight container.

Ranch Dressing

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup flat-leafed parsley, minced

2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced

1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon white vinegar

¼ teaspoon paprika

teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash hot sauce, like Tabasco

½ cup buttermilk

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine, preferably the night before. Season to taste.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.