I’m not much of a dreamer, as evidenced by the fact that, when I think about my goals for the future, I count owning a grill among the top three.

Cover courtesy of Page Street Publishing Co.

It’s not the purchase itself that’s prohibitive, but having a place to put said grill (goal No. 1 – preferably a bungalow). In the meantime, I’ve done what I can with a grill pan and smoky flavors to satisfy my need for grilled foods. “Operation BBQ: 200+ Smokin’ Recipes From Competition Grand Champions,” however, seemed like it could significantly improve my faux-grilling game.

The cookbook was compiled by Stan Hays, the chief executive officer of Operation BBQ Relief, an organization founded after competitive barbecue teams from nine states traveled to Joplin, Missouri, following a devastating tornado in 2011, to provide meals for the community. They’ve replicated that response to natural disasters all over the country, including in New Jersey and New York for Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and on the Texas Gulf Coast for Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Teams that have participated in the relief efforts contributed recipes to the cookbook, and a portion of its profits are donated to the organization. Chapters are dedicated to different meats, as well as fish, casseroles and stews, appetizers and sides, and desserts.

As someone who Googles “barbecue recipe” whenever the mood strikes, I appreciate now having a hard copy of some tried-and-true recipes for classics like pulled pork and ribs. The Kansas Caviar – a sort of Southwestern succotash – also caught my attention as an alternative side to run-of-the-mill cole slaw, and the Grilled Peach Smokjito seemed like a perfect beverage to bring in a pitcher to a backyard barbecue.

Several of the recipes call for premade marinades or specific brands of barbecue sauces, but I wanted to make something from scratch and landed on the Orange-Honey Sriracha Wings from Bark Brothers BBQ, an award-winning team from Columbus, Ohio. They’re first covered in a dry rub of brown sugar, paprika and other spices, grilled, then tossed in a sauce of orange marmalade, honey and sriracha, and grilled again.

Since there’s no way to set my grill pan on indirect heat, as instructed, I decided to bake the dry-rubbed wings to the temperature indicated, then, after tossing them in the sauce, finish them on the grill. Although the cook time was longer (apparently 300 degrees in the oven doesn’t equal 300 degrees on the grill), the result was fall-off-the-bone meat. I tried one before adding the sauce and thought they were going to be way too spicy, but the sauce did its job, creating just the right balance of sweet and heat, at least if eaten as an appetizer. The sweetness was a bit much for my meal-sized portion. I’d probably cut the marmalade in half, or even leave it out completely, if I made them again for dinner, as I did, served with a salad.

And maybe then I can cook them properly, on my grill, on the patio of my bungalow, with greens from my garden (that’s goal No. 3).

Orange-Honey-Sriracha Wings

Serves 8-10

DRY RUB:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup paprika

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

CHICKEN WINGS:

5 pounds chicken wings (sectioned into drums/wingettes; remove wing tips)

Olive oil

Your favorite smoke wood

SAUCE:

1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade

1/3 cup Sriracha

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup light brown sugar

To make the rub, combine all the rub ingredients in a bowl.

To make the wings, rinse the wings and pat them dry. Coat the wings lightly with olive oil and apply the dry rub to all sides of the wings.

Set up your smoke or grill for indirect cooking at 300 degrees. Add your favorite smoke wood for flavor (Bark Brothers BBQ prefers cherry wood on chicken).

Oil the cooking grate and place the wings on your grill or smoker. Cook with the lid on for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Make the sauce while the wings are cooking. Combine the sauce ingredients in a heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat. Bring to a boil, sitting constantly to dissolve all the sugar. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, remove the sauce from the heat.

When the wings have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, remove them from the grill. Toss the wings in a large bowl with the orange-honey sauce. Return the wings to the grill for 10 minutes to set the glaze. Remove the wings and toss them in the glaze for a second time. Place the wings back on the cooker for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Remove your wings from the cooker and devour!


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