Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

No Small Thing: Hickory Smoked Italian Chicken Wings

A thin, blue, hickory smoke curled from the pit, tapering into a cold, blue Minnesota sky. A sky that which rose to infinity, and shortly touched the sun there. That IMG_13211beautiful flaming orb patron to the heavens, which at this time of the year, after many months of winter, we will gladly wallow in but one of its golden rays.  The breeze is cool too, this late winter day, as I turn up the collar on my old smoking jacket, and admire how the soft, white clouds scatter through the air. And how the friendly Black Capped Chickadees, residents of the pond-side pit,  bandy together in the old spruce tree, flirting or keeping house, or doing what ever it is that Chickadees do in trees. A beautiful winter day indeed, one in which to tarry pit side for a while, lovely beverage within reach, and smoke up something good to eat. On the pit today, the quintessential appetizer – hickory smoked BBQ chicken wings. It’s real easy to do to.

A few hours before the wings hit the pit, and whilst favoring a bit of sunlight ebbing in through the kitchen window, we tossed the wings into a gallon-size plastic zip lock bag and promptly dumped in an entire bottle of Italian salad dressing.  Turns out this stuff doubles as a fantastic marinade, and is the only reason we can get away with coining these wings – Italian. Anyways, the concoction marinated all morning in the refrigerator, while yours truly may or may not have nodded off in his favorite man chair, whilst PBS cooking shows softly bantered up on the big screen. Good BBQ is never rushed, people. And if marination has spawned on a nap or two, well it only serves your palate the better for it. Be not ashamed! We let these wings soak for about four hours, and quite frankly,  they smelled good enough to eat right out of the plastic sack, only we didn’t, because that would be rank folly!


Amid the slanting shafts of an afternoon sun, we populated the grate on the weber smokey mountain heap full of this succulence in poultry, put the lid on, and let the smoker have its way. That is the joy of low and slow, indirect cooking, and especially on pits like the WSM, for you can set the temperature, in this case, 250 degrees, and just let it go with no fear of burning, nor thermal fluctuation. No babysitting. No worries. And let the sweet passage of time and wood smoke gently work the meat unto your highest, most savory ideal.


We pampered the wings in the smoke spa no less than two hours. Two glorious cycles of the hour hand in which to make the acquaintanceship of your favorite chair, fireplace toasty at your feet, and a good narrative in hand. And tho winter’s chill is still with us, the sun burns stalwart, and I can feel its gentle kiss through my window pane. I stretched in my chair like a spoiled house cat, and drew a glance out to the pit. I liked how the wood smoke curled out of the damper in wispy tendrils, and did so without a care in the world. Or wait, maybe that’s me. That is the other joy of low and slow BBQ, in that whilst the cook is on, and the wood smoke poetically rises, the world and its problems seem to dissolve right along with the aromatic smoke itself, into a wild and beautiful sky. The ever-whirling cog of society rotates onward and with out you for a while, and when you consider it some, even if but for a moment, you are quite OK with that. Indeed, it is a high privilege. For you are doing right now precisely that which is well with your soul… Say what ever you will, but that is no small thing. Amen.


Slow Hickory Smoked Italian Chicken Wings. Yet another delicious way to let up on the accelerator pedal of life, under lovely skies, and where the wood smoke also rises. Sauce is optional.


46 responses

  1. Mamma mia☺☺☺

    March 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

  2. I love your passion for the pit. 🙂 I hadn’t thought of Italian dressing as a marinade.. I will try that out soon. 🙂

    March 6, 2014 at 11:51 am

  3. Hmm. I think I’ll smoke some wings this weekend. (pronounced wangs here in Alabama.)

    March 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    • Good thinking TJ. I support you in your outdoor culinary endeavors. I have many southern relatives from Louisiana, and you all sure know how to play with words! I admire it.

      “Wrench yur wangs in the zink!!”

      March 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

  4. I marinate and saute with Italian dressing all of the time, it adds such flavor when you are cooking,,, but I’ve never once put it on a salad!

    March 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    • Boy you ain’t kidding. These wings smelled absolutely wonderful right out of the soak! Wonderful stuff, this Italian dressing.

      March 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

  5. Liz

    Yes to finally experiencing beautiful winter days. Seems it takes an extended journey to the other side of zero to help us fully appreciate a temperature as lovely as 20F. Looks like you’ve done well with your wings. I remember my mom marinating thick pork chops in a bottle of the Wishbone Italian Seasoned dressing. Yum.

    And I think you’re right on that the smoke tendrils also do not have a care in the world. Why would they?

    Here’s to a prolific and happy grilling season 😀

    March 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    • Thanks Liz. And as usual, well said. Nothing quite like living in a deep freeze for half the year to make 20 degrees feel like paradise. Crazy. I love the pork chop idea your mom had. I’ll have to give that a try.

      Thanks again, Liz. Grill on!

      March 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm

  6. This makes me wonder what other dressings are out there that would make a good marination.

    March 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    • Me too, Rick. Me too. I bet there are some good ones. Perhaps some one will enlighten us shortly.

      March 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

  7. They look delicious. I must fire up the barbecue now that the weather is improving here in Ireland.

    March 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    • Thanks, and Hello to you and Ireland! Hope to visit there some day. Pictures I’ve seen look beautiful. Good luck on your BBQ!

      March 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      • If you’re coming, let us know. There is always a welcome mat out for visiting food bloggers.

        March 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

  8. Donald Smolik

    Looks delicious! I have been using Italian dressing as a marinade for years. I like using a Red Wine Vinagarette the most, good stuff!
    Happy Smoking!

    March 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    • Yeah it’s good stuff indeed. I like your vinagarette idea. That would work great. Thanks for chiming in!

      March 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      • Donald Smolik

        Wishbone makes an awesome Red Wine Vin.
        I absolutely have to try smoking some wings soon! Thanks for the inspiration!

        March 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm

  9. I always manage to read your blog before a meal. Man those wings look great, I’ll have to share this around.

    March 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    • It’s an honor to get your slobbers running proper, Laurie. Go forth and feast! And thank you!

      March 6, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      • I need a napkin at the best of times, your cooking brings on the big drool 🙂 I always share the good stuff.

        March 6, 2014 at 4:14 pm

  10. Yum Yum. I need to feed a full teenage crew of rowing eights this weekend. This will do the trick. Looks easy and delicious. Should keep them busy chomping for a while.

    March 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    • Easy and delicious. Yup, that sums this one up pretty good! Good luck!

      March 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      • I already have chicken wings in the refrigerator. Was going to marinate them in a garlic, chilli, honey and soy marinade and bake them but this is way easier. Maybe I will get the boys to stand around the BBQ and cook their own. Even better.

        March 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      • Sounds most excellent!

        March 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

  11. I do love those tasty little wingy bits … rock on Brutha and stay hungry !!

    March 7, 2014 at 2:50 am

  12. Oh and … I LOVE using Greek Feta & Oregano (Kraft) as a marinade … DO try this one too !!

    March 7, 2014 at 2:56 am

  13. Awesome! I was tempted to lick my computer screen!

    March 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm

  14. I’ve heard of peeps using Italian dressing as a marinade but also haven’t tried it. Thanks for the reminder! GREAT post, my mouth is watering 🙂

    March 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    • Thanks. Yeah it’s a real tasty marinade. Definitely give it a go.

      March 7, 2014 at 1:07 pm

  15. Being Italian that’s my marinade of choice 🙂

    March 7, 2014 at 4:20 pm

  16. Love your writing … so lyrical and lulling, like the wisp of woodsmoke drifting lazily upward.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm

  17. Those look outstanding. I’ll have to give that a try soon…

    March 7, 2014 at 6:13 pm

  18. Soon my friend, very soon and we we will be able to sit pit side once again with beverage by our side and cooking hat cocked just right to lee the warm sun out of our eyes. Our snow here is on the melt.

    March 8, 2014 at 6:03 am

    • You speak truth, Mr Dodd, that which warms the soul and lowers a snow bank. Carry on my smokey brother!

      March 8, 2014 at 9:38 am

  19. boomapablo

    Very Nice! Chicken wings are becoming a favorite of mine to do also

    March 8, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    • Cool. Yeah, they’re simple, tasty , and kind of fun for a change. Wings are just plain good.

      Take care.

      March 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm

  20. mishmashcooking

    You write so beautifully! I wish I could taste those through the screen.

    March 9, 2014 at 11:32 am

  21. Yum!

    March 10, 2014 at 9:16 am

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