To cook like a championship pitmaster, try this recipe for smoky chicken wings

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — The teams that compete at the annual World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest every year in Memphis often have years of experience under their belts before they can earn a trophy as world-class pitmasters.

But you don't need any fancy equipment to cook like one at home. All you need is some advice from two experts who have spent years as judges for the so-called “Super Bowl of Swine."

Michelle and Brandon O'Guin of Lakeland, Tennessee, met at the annual cooking contest more than a decade ago. They now have a catering company and regularly compete in multiple contests, as well as serve as certified judges.

“We like to call ourselves culinary athletes,” said Michelle O'Guin.

While the Memphis competition is all about the hog, the O'Guins specialize in chicken wings, which make for an easy intro for backyard grillers looking to experiment with smoking.

The key to smoking is low and slow, where the wings are on the colder side of the grill, not directly over the hot coals. This is commonly called a two-zone method. The O'Guins advise going easy on the wood chips or chunks because too much smoke can overwhelm the flavors of the marinade. They prefer pecan wood chips because the nuttiness goes well with the adobo chiles.

“We love doing wings, and Michelle being from Southern California, that Mexican flavor is a real big inspiration," said Brandon O'Guin.

The final step is a high, hot sear at the end to crisp up the chicken wing.

“The thing about these wings is with them being marinated, you have to have that heat on the end because all that moisture that’s on the skin, it takes a while for them to dry out," explained Brandon O'Guin.

They shared this recipe with The AP:


Tender chicken wings marinated in a sweet and spicy pineapple adobo sauce, then smoked and tossed in a flavorful glaze. Makes about 4 servings.


15 whole chicken wings

2 cups fresh pineapple, diced

2 whole chiles in adobo

2 tablespoons adobo sauce

3/4 cup orange juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon granulated onion

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2/3 cup agave syrup


Make the marinade: Blend pineapple, chiles, adobo sauce, orange juice, garlic, spices, olive oil, and vinegar in a blender. Reserve 3/4 cup of marinade for the glaze, and marinate wings for 1 hour.

Smoke wings at 275 degrees for 1 1/2 hours on a grill over indirect heat, then crisp at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes over direct heat. If needed, add a few more charcoal briquets to the hot coals to increase the heat.

For the AP Pastor glaze, mix reserved marinade with the agave syrup. Toss the smoked wings in the glaze.