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I have a friend who thinks that barbecue means flipping burgers and sausages over hot coals while drinking beer. This disturbs me. Okay, he has the key ingredients correct, but if all it takes is the involvement of meat and beer, then unloading my weekly shopping is barbecuing. To give credit where it’s due, he does have an inkling that there’s more to ‘Q than burnt meat and drizzle – he has been to Bodean’s, which I suppose is better than nothing.

Clearly, someone needs to show him how BBQ really works, and thus ruin all future outdoor grilling events for him.

Here’s the meat stack. He seems enthused.

Ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, more chicken, sausages.

Meat a-marinading

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Wings are great. I love wings. Unfortunately, while pretty much every bar in the USA seems to serve at least passable wings, it’s nigh-on impossible to get good wings in the UK – they’re not part of the culture, and pork scratchings just don’t cut it.

It has taken quite a bit of trial and error, but I finally have a recipe I’m happy with. It is based on the excellent Brian’s Belly recipe, but with some of the pointless fat taken out. Brian’s wing ethics are spot on, though.

Hot wings

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Wings are supposed to be deep fried. Heart attacks are supposed to be avoided. Life is full of conflicts.

How do I satisfy the wing craving without eating myself into an early grave? Obviously if it comes down to a straight choice, it’s a no-brainer, but I feel I should at least try to investigate some healthy options. I can just about tolerate baked wings, having got the sauce recipe perfect, but it’s always there at the back of my mind, this nagging feeling that they just aren’t quite right.

Then I had an idea – could smoked wings be a worthy alternative to the One True Way?

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This is my new toy, a ProQ Excel 20 smoker barbecue. (If you want one, they are made by Mac’s BBQ, and their site has lists of dealers. Of the four UK dealers, the freebies and availability of accessories swung me towards ForFoodSmokers, who were great, but I’m sure the others are lovely too.)

I have used an offset smoker before, but this stacker design is new to me. Just in case it all goes horribly wrong, I’ve invited the in-laws round to act as guinea pigs – they’ll be sympathetic if it ends up with an emergency run to the chippy.

It’s a reasonably complex menu for the first attempt: ribs, chicken, sausages and something for the token vegetarian. That means I’m going to need a Plan.

A portrait of R2D2


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