Okay – first things first. I realize that “Chicken Shakeys” is a terrible name, but the problem is this: Until about a day ago, these things had no name at all. I have been making them for pretty much ever, but there was never a name beyond “those chicken wing things” and when I got around to taking pictures and getting ready to put the recipe up here, I realized that a name was probably in order. So I went with “Chicken Shakeys” because (a) you do shake them at one point, and (b) the great Jim “Shakey” Hunt could eat more chicken wings at a press box buffet than anyone else on the planet. But the name is definitely not set in stone, and if you can think of something better, I am all ears. In fact, if you do come up with a name and I adopt it, I will name another recipe down the road after you. So get your thinking bibs on and see what you can do.
In the meantime, on with the show.
This is a kind of messy (during the preparation) and somewhat fidgety (during the preparation) but generally simple (during the cooking) take on chicken wings that will really impress your guests as either a side or an appetizer. These look cool, are fun to eat, and taste like greasy heaven on a stick. And, just for extra awesomeness, there is bacon. When you are done, you get what amounts to savory chicken and bacon lollipops with all kinds of layers of sweet and smoky flavour, and if you can eat just one of these then you either have ludicrous amounts of willpower or no taste buds at all.
Sorry, grill-heads, this one needs smoke and no direct heat, so you are on the sidelines for this one. Everyone else, stand by for some serious yum.
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To make your Chicken Shakeys (or whatever the hell we end up calling them), you need the following:
Split chicken wings – but only the drumettes
Your favourite chicken rub
Your favourite pork rub
A quick note about the ingredients: SInce you are only using the drumettes (ie: the half of the chicken wing that looks like a tiny drumstick) you will need to buy twice as many wings as you actually plan to serve, unless you have access to a store that sells only the drumettes. Which is pretty rare, so don’t hold your breath there. The rest of the wings you can freeze for later. As for the rubs, you can buy some at the store, make your own, or just use these handy recipes here and here.
A quick note about quantities: There are no concrete quantities listed, because this is scalable to how many Shakeys you want to serve. Pay attention below for the actual ratios of “wings to stuff”.
To start, you want to french your drummettes. No, not like that. What you want to do is cut through the flesh and skin and connective tissue all the way around the bottom of the bone to “release the meat, and then push the meat and skin all the way up to the end of the bone, giving you the “lollipop” effect you see here. This is the “fidgety” part that I mentioned earlier.
Once you have frenched as many wings as you need to keep your guests (or your greedy self) happy, toss them in a large bag or bowl and add 1 tablespoon of chicken rub for every 10 wings you have. Shake them (thus the name) if they are bagged or toss them if they are bowled until they are completely and evenly coated. Do not take them out of the bag or bowl yet!
Next, the secret weapon: Apple butter.
To the aforementioned bag or bowl, add 1 tablespoon of apple butter for (surprise) every 10 wings. Once again, shake or toss like mad until everything is coated. When you are done, dump them out onto your work surface. They will be a seriously gloppy mess at this point. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Now – grab your bacon. One strip for every two wings. Cut the strips in half cross-wise, like so.
Then grab each Shakey, and do two things: 1, move the meat back up to the end of the bone to get the lollipop shape back (they will have gotten messed up in the shaking) and 2, wrap each lollipop with one of the half-strips of bacon. You can make these in advance, and if you do, you might want to stick a toothpick through each one to maintain the bacon adhesion while they are in the fridge. If you are going to cook them right away, don’t worry about the toothpicks since the coating of sticky apple butter will hold the bacon in place for the couple of hours they are going to cook. When everything is in place, they should look like this.
Finally, lightly dust the finished wraps with a pinch of pork rub per each drumette. From inside to out the structure is chicken drumette, chicken rub, apple butter, bacon, and a pinch of pork rub. Layers of flavor to be sure.
Now – the easy part. Get your smoker going, and fire it with a really sweet wood. I have found that pecan, apple, or maple are the best bets here. Settle your pit down to 110 degrees C (that’s 225 degrees F for your folks below the 49th parallel) , and stick these in for about one hour and forty-five minutes (if they are more-or-less standard supermarket wings) or two hours (if they are the humungo wings that you get from restaurant supply places or fresh from the farm). Otherwise, just leave them alone. When they are done the bacon should be cooked and tender, but not pulling away from the chicken. Pull them off and let them sit for about 5 minutes, and then dig in.
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