Saturday, 10 March 2018

Big Sky BBQ Pit

Address: 306016 15th St. E, Okotoks, AB
Smoker: Backwoods
Wood: White Oak, Red Maple, Apple, Cherry & Peach
Head Pitmasters: Rob Bolton & Ryan Lumbao

Imagine realizing that perhaps the best bbq joint in the area is nearly right in your own backyard and you've only been there twice in the last year.  That was the conclusion I came to recently after my second visit to Big Sky BBQ Pit in Okotoks, AB.

My first visit was just over a year earlier in January 2017 when our family was south of Calgary and we met my boss and his kids at Big Sky for lunch.  The big, spacious dining room right away reminded me of a Texas bbq restaurant, as did the communal style tables.  A good first impression!

Texas Style BBQ in Alberta

There is a counter that you place your order at, and then they call your name when your food is ready.  Next to the order counter is a self-serve table with a selection of sauces, including apple and root beer varieties.

I ordered a two meat plate with brisket and sausage, while my family opted for pulled pork sandwiches.  Our sides were cole slaw, cornbread and the signature smoked beans.  The brisket had great flavour and was pull apart tender.  The sausage was also excellent with a good spicy kick to it.  I had a taste of the pulled pork and it was also very good.  The southern slaw was good, but the beans stole the show as far as the sides went.  They were cooked in a thick, sweet sauce and complemented by chunks of smoked meats.

All of our meals were excellent and my only complaint on this visit was the fact that you paid for your food at the counter when ordering, and then paid a server separately for your drinks.

Fast forward a year and I made the trip south again to meet up with a couple of co-workers for lunch on a Sunday afternoon.  They were there when I arrived and they had ordered a Fired Up Pig Tail appetizer already.  I ordered a beer and the appetizer arrived shortly afterwards.  It was a cream cheese stuffed jalapeño wrapped in bacon and a caramel sauce.  We cut it into 3 pieces and each had a bite.  For our tastes, it was beyond spicy.  I enjoy a little heat, but this was too much in my opinion.  Our server suggested we may have got one with some of the seeds left in it which would explain the burning in our mouths!

I was pleased to see that they had fixed the ordering process that I wasn't a fan of from a year earlier.  You now order everything from a server and there is one bill for both food and drink together.  We ordered up the Piggy Chick Platter to share between the 3 of us.  The platter consists of 4 lbs of ribs, 8 chicken thighs, a tub of beans and cornbread.

The Piggy Chick Platter...a mountain of smoked meat!

Another couple that joined us ordered the Carnivore Platter with pulled pork, chicken, ribs and sausage.  It normally also comes with brisket but they were sold out when we were there.  They also ordered sides of the scalloped cheddar bacon potatoes and bacon jalapeño mac n' cheese.

The ribs were outstanding and cooked perfectly.  They serve them dry with just a rub cooked on.  I detected a bit of sweetness in the rub, maybe some brown sugar.  The meat wasn't fall off the bone, but had a great bit and pulled away with little effort.  The smoked chicken thighs were also very good, but were overshadowed by the ribs!  The bone-in chicken was juicy and tender and the skin was well seasoned and had a bit of crispness to it.  The beans were as good (or better) than I remembered from a year ago and the cornbread was also excellent.  It had a smooth, dense texture and great flavour.  Everyone at the table appreciated the fact that there were no chunks of corn as you sometimes find.  The Piggy Chick platter fed all 3 of us and left enough to take home for 2 or 3 lunches.

The friends with the carnivore platter said the pulled pork was good, but they especially enjoyed the sausage.  The server said it was a new variety they were making with maple syrup and cheddar.  The scalloped were potatoes were a hit, but they found the jalapeño mac n'cheese too spicy.

I have been back two more times since that visit in January and I continue to be impressed.  Both times I have had the Hungry Man Platter which comes with 3 meats and a side of those excellent baked beans.  My wife and daughter each went with the pulled pork sandwich with the scalloped potatoes and corn bread.  The pork was served on a delicious herb bread.

Pulled Pork sandwich, scalloped potatoes and corn bread

Between my 3 recent visits I've been able to try all of their meats with the exception of the beef ribs.  Everything has been excellent, but I did find the brisket a little dry on one of my trips, but that will happen.

The Hungry Man Platter, Texas Trinity Style

The maple & cheddar sausage is some of the best I've had anywhere and the pulled pork has great flavour to it, I particularly liked it with a touch of the root beer sauce.

Big Sky boasts a huge outdoor patio and they host a number of special and community events.  One of the things I love most about barbecue is the sense of family and community.  These guys seem to get that and embrace it.  I strongly encourage you to make the short drive from Calgary out to Okotoks to try it for yourself.  I'm certain you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

My Cooks - Smoked Turkey, December 16, 2017

Nothing says Christmas quite like turkey!  Around our house though, we generally do a prime rib for Christmas dinner, so I needed another reason to try smoking a turkey.  Well last week the opportunity presented itself when we invited some good friends over for to celebrate the season with us.  Jackpot!

I picked up about a 15 pound fresh bird at Costco on Friday and stored it in a cooler out on our back deck.  Saturday night I prepared a brine of salt water, some onion and some fresh herbs.  I had picked up a large oven roasting bag and after washing the turkey I placed it in the roasting bag with the cooled brine and it all went back out into the cooler for the night.

Turkey brining in a roasting bag
We woke up to a bit of a windy morning which had me worried about keeping the temperature stable on my Oklahoma Joe Highland, but fortunately the wind calmed down a little by the time I was ready to cook.

I got the smoker going shortly past noon with a couple of chimneys of charcoal and then added some oak and apple chunks before putting the turkey on around 1:30.

Not to toot my own horn, but I've set the bar pretty high when it comes to cooking turkey!  Our friend Keith shared a method for cooking turkey on a propane grill a few years ago and it has become the go to.  We start by peeling the skin back off the breast meat and poking some holes in the breast meat with a knife.  Fresh garlic cloves get inserted into these holes and then the breast meat gets coated with a thin layer of barbecue sauce and then slices of thick cut bacon are placed over the breast meat. You then pull the skin back into place.  We have needed to use toothpicks in the past to hold the skin back in place...just remember how many you use and make sure to get them all out afterwards!  With the skin back, a layer of yellow mustard is spread over the whole bird followed by the rub of your choice and then another layer of bacon.  We then place the turkey in a foil roasting pan with some broth or white wine in the bottom and cook it over indirect heat on the grill.

For this turkey, I had decided to spatchcock the bird to speed up the cooking process, but I figured there was no reason I couldn't prepare the turkey as usual with the all the bacony goodness!  I cut the backbone out, flattened out the bird and went to work.  For the rub, I used Cluck & Squeal.  I get it at my local Barbecues Galore store and I'm quite fond of it.

Seasoned, covered in bacon and ready to go!

Onto the smoker
I had my iGrill2 set for 165 with a probe in each breast.  With the turkey underway, I went to work on the appetizer of pork belly burnt ends.  I had done these once previously and they were great.  I made a big mistake this time when buying the pork belly though and forgot to have the butcher remove the rind.  I quickly realized this when I started cubing up the pork belly to season it for cooking.  This really added to the time it took to cut up the pork belly and hopefully this isn't a mistake I repeat in the future.  We're lucky to have a top notch butcher shop nearby in NW Calgary, Bon Ton Meat Market, and they were happy to remove the rind for me the last time.  Lesson learned!

Once I had the pork belly cubed up, I tossed it in some Cluck & Squeal and spread the pieces out on a grill pan and added them to the smoker alongside the turkey.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends - Bacon Candy! 
The wind and the cooler Alberta weather factored in, but I was able to get the smoker holding pretty steady around 250 degrees.  I added 4 or 5 chimneys of charcoal throughout the cook, along with plenty of oak splits and apple chunks.

We decided kind of last minute to add another appetizer into the mix, some prawns in a butter sauce.  I had seen a posting on Instagram earlier in the day that looked great, so when we were at the grocery store before I started cooking we had grabbed what we needed.

My wife prepared the prawns in a sauce of butter with some lemon juice and worchestershire sauce and tossed in some rosemary for good measure.  Once the pork belly came off the smoker after a couple of hours, I put the prawns on for about 45 minutes to an hour.

To finish off the burnt ends, I tossed the pork belly cubes in some sauce, put them in a foil pan and put them on the propane grill to get yummy!  The smoker was full with the turkey and prawns, and I wanted the higher heat from the grill to crisp them up a bit.

Everyone enjoyed the burnt ends and prawns while we waited for the main course.  To go along with the turkey, we had prepared some mashed potatoes, a cauliflower and broccoli au gratin and corn bread with honey butter.  After about 6 hours the bird was ready to come off.

The finished turkey

I got the turkey carved up and ready to eat, along with that deliciously crispy bacon.  The outer layer of bacon gets nice and crispy during the cook, but the inside layer under the turkey skin stays pretty soggy.

In the end, the turkey was very good, as were the two appetizers I smoked.  With the white breast meat, none of us really noticed any substantial smoke flavour, but I did notice it more on the dark meat.  It was a great meal and a good way to kick off the Christmas season with some special friends.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Skinny's Smoke House, Medicine Hat, AB - July 23, 2017

This is my first blog post about a BBQ joint in Alberta.  Now that I have finished documenting my Texas BBQ adventures, it is time to start writing about the scene closer to home.  It was a busy summer and start to fall for our family, so this post has taken a couple of months to move from draft status to published.

I had the opportunity to visit Skinny's last summer and was impressed with the BBQ, so when we were going to be there again on a Sunday afternoon it seemed like a no brainer to go back!  Our kids had been spending the week with their grandparents in Regina and we were meeting them in Medicine Hat to bring them home, so we planned to meet at Skinny's for lunch before everyone went their own ways.

Skinny's Smoke House, Medicine Hat, AB, Canada

Knowing in advance that we would be there and wanting to expand on my blogging experiences, I contacted the restaurant ahead of time to see if they would have a few minutes to talk with me while I was there.  I promptly received a reply from Jeff Brewster, one of the founders, who said he would be happy to visit.  This was going to be my first 'interview', and I'll admit to being a little anxious about it.

Skinny's is located in a small shopping strip in a largely residential neighbourhood, but it is easily accessed off of the TransCanada Highway, just 3 or 4 minutes from the highway.  My in-laws, with our kids in tow, were waiting inside when we arrived.  We joined them inside and since everyone was hungry it made sense to order and eat and then introduce myself to Jeff afterwards.  You order and pay at the counter and then they call you when your order is ready.

The décor inside Skinny's is very southern BBQ.  It isn't a big place and they have 4 large communal tables that fill the dining area.  Murals painted on the walls along with a pretty decent licence plate collection and some other knick knacks give it a casual and comfortable down home feel.

The license plate collection at Skinny's

The menu here is pretty standard BBQ joint fare; pulled pork, brisket, ribs, sausage and chicken for the meats.  Their regular sides are baked beans, potato salad and slaw and they have different daily special sides that they offer. 

The menu board

We all ordered individual meals and the pulled pork sandwich seemed to be the popular choice, with everyone except myself going that route.  I opted for the 2 meat plate with ribs and brisket, with slaw and the feature side of the day, corn bread topped with honey butter.  My order came accompanied by a dinner roll and some house-made pickles.  The ribs and brisket were served sauce free, with 3 sauce options available on the tables.  The pork rib portion of my order was 3 meaty ribs with a tasty, but not overpowering rub cooked on.  They were very good and came off the bone without too much effort, although I did think they could have used just a little more time in the smoker.  When my 11 year old saw what I had, she asked to try a rib and she also enjoyed it.

My daughter's partially eaten pulled pork sandwich with corn bread

Next up was the brisket.  The serving was two thick slices of meaty goodness.  The slices were probably double the thickness of what I've become used to getting in Texas.  My first thought was that they were trying to hide something, but after one bite I was convinced that it was just how they roll at Skinny's.  I've heard of places slicing their brisket thick when it is overcooked and too crumbly to slice thinner...not the case here.  Even with the extra thickness I was able to pull it apart with my fingers.  It was moist and delicious with a good bark on it.  The fat was nicely rendered and melted in my mouth.  A little dip of the meat in their regular sauce added to the flavour party happening!

My two meat plate with ribs and brisket

The cornbread was really good and the honey butter drizzled over top gave it an awesome sweetness. I really enjoyed the coleslaw and the house made pickles were great.

After we ate I went over and introduced myself to Jeff.  While we sat down to chat he was testing out some smoked chicken wings and offered me one to try.  It was great with a really tasty rub, a little bit of spice and also some brown sugary sweetness.  Definitely something they can consider adding to the regular menu!

Skinny's has been open in Medicine Hat since 2013 and Jeff is the co-owner along with Todd Lindsay.  At the time both men were looking for a change of scenery career wise.  Jeff was on a waterskiing trip in Florida and visited a BBQ spot in Auburndale, FL called Peebles Bar-B-Q; and that is where he caught the BBQ bug!  Soon after, he and Todd took a trip through the southern states doing research that took them through Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  I asked Jeff if there were any stops on their trip that stood out for him.  He mentioned Q39 in Kansas City as having the best pulled pork he had tasted.  They visited LA Barbecue and Stiles Switch in Austin and Riscky's BBQ in Fort Worth.  Jeff mentioned that a couple of places in Danville, KY and Tulsa also stood out, but the names escaped him.  There is a great mural painted on one of the walls inside the restaurant depicting their journey.

Jeff & Todd's Excellent BBQ Adventure!

They cook on an Ole Hickory gas assist smoker using primarily cherry and apple wood, although Jeff mentioned that they had been experimenting with smoking some fish using mesquite.  Jeff also let me in on the fact that construction has started on a new location on the west side of Medicine Hat in a new commercial area just off the highway with a much larger capacity, between 150 and 170.  They are also selling their sauces commercially in area grocery stores.

These guys are making great BBQ out in Medicine Hat and I look forward to visiting them again and checking out the new location once it opens.  If you find yourself around Medicine Hat, definitely go and find Skinny's!  Support your local pit master and eat more BBQ!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Houston 2017 Trip Wrap Up

This will be my final blog entry about my February 2017 trip to Texas.  I have already written about most of the great BBQ experiences I had, and wanted to do up a quick entry on a couple of others places I had the chance to visit while in Houston. 

I was down there for work, which spilled into the evening on a few occasions, so unfortunately I did not have much opportunity to visit Houston area BBQ spots, even though I did have a list of places I hoped to visit while I was there.

One of my Calgary work colleagues happened to be down there at the same time with his wife and we met up at Pizzitola's.  They are famous for their spareribs and have an interesting story.  They have a 70 + year old brick pit in the restaurant that they cook on.  Houston does not allow such pits in restaurants anymore for safety reasons, but Pizzitola's pit has been grandfathered in and is still allowed.  They problem they have is that they cannot do any renovations or expansions because that would void the allowance for the pit, so it puts them in a bit of a tough spot.  That said, it is a neat old place with lots of pictures and historical mementos on the walls.  We all ordered the ribs since that is what they are known for, and also because by dinner time they were out of a couple other meats.  The ribs weren't they best I've had, but they were pretty good.  All in all it was a good BBQ meal shared with some good company!

The other place that I'm not going to dedicate a whole blog entry to is Pappas BBQ.  Pappas is a chain restaurant that is part of a larger group of restaurants and they have a number of locations in Houston, including one in Humble not far from my airport hotel.  I've been there on past trips and while it is a big commercial operation, the BBQ is decent, they always have everything available, the portions are generous with good sides and I love their pecan pie!  I bought a whole pecan pie this trip to bring back home to Calgary for the family.  When I leave the office late and don't feel like exploring some area of Houston away from my hotel, it's nice to have Pappas to fall back on for a good BBQ dinner!

All in all, I had some wonderful BBQ experiences on this trip and really that is what led to this blog.  I have already started making a list of new places I want to get to on my next trip south and I look forward to sharing those stories with you.  Until then, I am going to start writing about some of the joints closer to home that I have had the opportunity to visit.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Roegels Barbecue - last stop on the journey

It was March 4, 2017 and it was my last day in Houston on this work trip.  I had an early evening flight back to Calgary, which left me time for one more BBQ stop before heading to the airport.

Based on my thorough and in-depth social media research I had my sights set on Roegels Barbecue Co. in Houston.  I hoped it would be a fitting finish to what had been a great stretch of gluttony the previous 8 or 9 days!  I got myself checked out of the hotel and headed out.

Roegels is located west of the city centre, so it was a bit of a drive from my airport hotel. Despite my phone's spotty (at best) GPS performance, I made it in reasonable time without any wrong turns, other than driving past the restaurant on my first pass!  A quick turnaround at the shopping centre a block or two up the road and I was pulling into the parking lot. 

Not sure how I missed the sign!

Roegels is located in the building that previously housed a Baker's Ribs location, which was owned and operated by Russell Roegels.  A few years back he decided to cut ties with the chain and open his own joint.  In 2014 Roegels Barbecue Co. opened their doors and the accolades started coming.  They were recently named to the list of the Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine.

The interior decor of the restaurant is nice, although fairly typical.  It has a relaxed, casual feel to it, with lots of wood and western style decorations.  The photo on my blog's home page came from inside the restaurant.

I approached the counter and was greeted by a very friendly man named Bruce.  With Bruce's help, I opted for the three meat plate with the Texas trinity of brisket, pork ribs, and sausage, but instead of the usual sausage  I switched it up for a link of their boudin sausage, something I had been wanting to try but that isn't very common in and around Houston (more of a Louisiana and East Texas specialty).  For my 2 sides, I went with coleslaw and Texas Caviar, a salad made with black eyed peas, corn and peppers.

I had tweeted them earlier that I was coming by, and when Bruce asked me if I was on a BBQ tour, I suspected that he had seen the tweet.  My suspicion was heightened when I overheard Bruce telling the meat cutter to make sure he gave me a nice piece of brisket (they did) because I would be taking pictures of it!  Whatever the reason, the tray of BBQ that I received looked outstanding.  I loaded up on pickles and some bread and grabbed a seat.  The place wasn't packed for early on a Saturday afternoon, but there was a steady flow of people coming in. 

The Texas Trinity with slaw and Texas Caviar

Folks, they are serving up some excellent BBQ here.  The ribs were outstanding with a great bite.  The brisket is right up there with anything I've tried and the thick peppery bark was outstanding.  I really enjoyed my first taste of boudin, some different flavours than I'm used to, but really good.  The coleslaw and the house made pickles were great and the Texas Caviar was a nice alternative to the traditional sides.

The only downside to my experience was my choice in dessert, but that is totally on me.  I was full after lunch and decided to get a dessert to go, thinking I would eat it later at the airport while waiting for my flight. The idea was good, but the execution in choosing the bourbon banana pudding was a mistake.  So was not making sure I grabbed a spoon.  By the time I got around to eating it, the pudding had warmed up and was a little runny...especially trying to eat it with a plastic fork.  The pecan cobbler probably would have been a better option.  Live and learn!

Like I said earlier, the food here is top notch.  The restaurant has a great ambience, the service was super friendly and in my opinion they are worthy of their Top 50 ranking. This is by far the best BBQ I have experienced in the Houston area.  Roegels is definitely worth a stop and I will absolutely try and get back there on future trips to Houston.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Kreuz Market in Lockhart

In 1999, the Texas Legislature proclaimed Lockhart, TX the Barbecue Capital of Texas.  The city is home to a number of major barbecue joints and as you can imagine, there are some stories to go with them.

One of the more interesting stories is that of Kreuz Market and Smitty's Market.  Kreuz Market started out as a meat market in 1900 and moved to a new location in Lockhart 24 years later.  Kreuz remained in that location until 1999 when, during a well publicized family feud, owner Rick Schmidt moved the business to its current location and his sister Nina opened Smitty's Market in the existing building.  TV and newspaper crews were on hand as pit master Roy Perez and Lehman Schmidt dragged a metal tub of the coals from the old location to the new Kreuz Market and used them to start the fires in the new pits.  A search of Kreuz on the Texas Monthly website, will provide you with a few different stories by Daniel Vaughn about the family ordeal, along with a great photo of the transfer of the coals.

After my meal at Franklin I drove around Austin a little and then headed south towards Lockhart.  It is a short 35 or 40 minute drive, so when I got there I was still full from lunch.  I made my way to Kreuz Market and headed inside.  It is a large red building with a brick and metal exterior.

Keuz Market exterior

There are 3 separate areas to the interior.  You enter through a foyer into a large dining area and corridor that leads you the pit area.  On the day I was there a band was playing country music in this room.

Sunday afternoon entertainment

The corridor takes you past this dining area through a set of doors into the pit room.  In here you find a number of large, brick pits and an ordering counter.

The Kreuz Market pit room

This is where you order and pay just for your meat and where you will often find the aforementioned Roy Perez tending the pits.  Perez and his mutton chop sideburns are legendary in the Texas BBQ world.  Sadly, he was not there on this day, so my hope for a photo opportunity was foiled!  I kept it light, ordering just one of the sausages that Kreuz is famous for.

From the pit room, you go through another set of doors into the main dining room and another counter where you order your sides and drinks.  I got a soda, some bread and pickles and a cole slaw to go with my sausage.  They also have some souvenirs available, including one featuring Roy Perez and his mutton chops that says 'Love Meat Tender'.  You can check out the selection at  The dining room was busy on this Sunday afternoon.  I found a seat at one of the long tables.

On the wall in the corridor when you first come in, a sign is posted listing their traditions since 1900. The first two are 'No Barbecue Sauce' and 'No Forks'.

The Rules!

This is real Texas barbecue and they don't feel that they have anything to hide by covering it up with sauce.  The lack of forks goes back to the meat market traditions where customers would buy smoked meats from the market along with some bread to use as a vehicle for eating the meat.  Part of what has drawn me to Texas BBQ has been the tradition, so I wrapped my sausage up in my bread, added some pickles and dug in!

While I was in Lockhart, I wish that I had the time, and more importantly, the appetite to check out some of the other great spots in town.  I guess there is always next time!

Kreuz Market is one of the legendary joints that is a must stop if you are in the area.  They are a Texas Monthly Top 50 spot, and even though the current building is relatively new, they managed to transfer some of the historical feeling when they moved.  This is quality barbecue and a great atmosphere, I just hope next time I go Roy Perez will be there!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

My Cooks - Smoked Chicken Wings, May 2017

This is the first time I post about my own smoking efforts.  My current cooker is a cheap, hardware store offset smoker.  It is made of thin metal and is designed for charcoal use.  I decided a while back that I wanted to try cooking by burning just wood and not charcoal.  I was able to find a firewood supplier that sells oak, unfortunately they are located just south of Edmonton.  A few weeks back I found myself up that way on a work trip and I was able to stop in there to stock up.  Of course, the firebox on my smoker is small, so I had to cut down the wood to make it fit.

It took a bit of work to get the fire going, but I was eventually able to get the smoker up to temperature.  I had hoped to maintain a temperature of around 250 degrees.  This cook was also my first opportunity to use the iGrill temperature sensor I got for Christmas.  I picked up an ambient temperature probe for it about a month ago so mounted the probe at the far end of the cooking area and set the iGrill for a temperature range between 225 and 275 degrees.  The iGrill syncs to your smartphone with bluetooth, so you can monitor your temperatures from a distance and also receive warnings when the temperature falls outside the range you set.  You can plug in up to 4 probes at once, allowing me to monitor the temperature inside the smoker as well as up to 3 different pieces of meat.

I wanted to test things out with something fairly simple and quick, so I opted for some chicken wings.  Something else I tried out for the first time was brining.  Austin's favourite Hardcore Carnivore, Jess Pryles, has posted a recipe for some buffalo chicken tenders that she brined in a buttermilk and hot sauce mixture.  I modified the recipe a little, adding just a few dashes of the hot sauce since I'm the only one in my family that likes spicy food.  My schedule only allowed me to have the wings in the brine for a few hours, so I don't know how much it added, but they did stay moist.  An overnight brine the next time should help even more.  I pulled the wings out of the brine, added some seasoning and onto the smoker they went.

Brined, seasoned and ready for some smoke!

I put a foil pan filled with water on the grill, closest to the firebox to keep more moisture in the cooker as well.  The lid on my smoker doesn't seal very tight, but I have found that a couple of paving stones on top of the lid helps keep it closed a little better!
I mentioned that I was trying to cook with just wood for the first time and I did find it quite a challenge to keep the temperature within my desired range and I was constantly having to adjust the dampers.

I let the wings cook for about 2 hours before checking on them.  The ones closer to the firebox were certainly more cooked than the others.  I moved them around a bit and at this point I slid meat probes into a couple of the wings and closed the lid for a while longer.  After another 45 minutes or so I was comfortable that the wings were cooked.  The problem with doing chicken at a lower temperature like this is that the skin doesn't crisp up.  That may be ok on a whole chicken where you can just not eat the skin, but that doesn't really work on wings!

I pulled the wings off the smoker, tossed them in some barbecue sauce and put them in the oven at high heat to crisp them up.

Smoked BBQ Wings

The Outcome: They were tasty.  Good, but not great.  I actually found the smoke flavour to be overpowering.

Next time out I will try a couple of things differently.  As I mentioned earlier, I'll brine them overnight and the other thing I'll try is to just have them on the smoker for about an hour to get some smoke flavour on the meat, but then I will finish them either on the grill or in the oven.

My other takeaway from this cook is that I need to spend more time figuring out how to maintain a steady temperature using strictly wood for fuel as opposed to charcoal.  Hopefully I can find an afternoon soon to just fire up the smoker and play around with holding the temp.  I also have some modifications in mind for it that hopefully will help.

I'll keep you all posted and I'll have some other posts up soon on some previous cooks!