I have thought about this day for a long time. The first and only time I made drums of heaven was in culinary school. My partner and a bad-ass chef taught me to butcher chicken wings so the bone was completely clean, but the skin and flesh still attached, creating a casing. We filled the chicken wings with homemade andouille sausage, and then smoked those suckers until they were golden brown. I remember they tasted amazing.
So I decided it was finally time to bust out these bad boys, no matter how much pressure it put on my fledgling butchery skills. I did manage to get close-up shots of how I butchered the wings, but fair warning–I am not a butcher. I have one very vague memory of making these things, and had to sort of learn the rest along the way. The photos are not perfect or pretty, and are pretty littered with chicken guts, but they teach you how to get the job done.
Step one: cutting the wing in two
Photo one: See that fatty bit that I am expanding? You want to cut through that with scissors or a knife (Photo two), and it will lead you to the joints of the two parts of the wing.
Photo three: Take the wing and pop it in the opposite direction, and the joint of one side of the wing should pop out of the skin.
Photo four: Cut in between that joint and the other joint, and it should separate into two. (Photo five).
Step two: butchering the “drumstick” part of the wing.
Photo one: This is what I like to call the “drumstick” portion of the wing, because it looks like a chicken drumstick.
Photo two: Grab the fatty part of the “drumstick” looking part of the wing with one hand, and put your boning knife in the other hand. Cut through the skin to the bone near the top, then start scraping down towards the fatty part you are holding. The goal is to get all the meat and skin pushed down from the very top of the bone.
Photo three: This is what you get–it doesn’t have to be perfect, because you will fix it later.
Photo one: Grab the wing with one hand, bone up in the air, and use your other index finger to separate the flesh from the bone, taking care not to rip the skin off the bottom of the bone (you want to keep it attached).
Photo two: Grab the bone in one hand, boning knife in the other. Scrape the bone down to the bottom until the bone is clean, literally turning the flesh and skin inside out, but still leaving it attached at the base.
Photo three: Fold the flesh and skin back up the bone, and there you have a prepped drumstick wing of heaven, ready for the sausage.
Step three: Butchering the “other” part of the wing.
Photo one: This is what I call the “other” bit of the wing. It will have two bones sticking out of the skin.
Photo two: I stick my finger in between the two bones, detaching the flesh from the smaller bone.
Photo three: I continue to use my fingers to push the flesh down off the smaller bone completely to the base.
Photo one: Once all of the flesh is removed from the smaller bone, pop it in the opposite direction and it should pop off. If it is still attached, use a knife to cut through the cartilage holding it in place.
Photo two: This is what you should have left: the larger bone, flesh, and skin.
Photo three: Use the boning knife to clean all the flesh off the bone towards the bottom/base of the bone, taking care to leave the skin attached to the base.
Photo four: Fold the flesh and skin back into place, and there you have a prepped “other” part of the wing.
Step four: Make the sausage
And stuff it into a pastry bag, preferably with a metal tip.
Step five: Fill the wings
Photo one: stuff the pastry bag tip into the chicken wing, pointed towards the base, and fill the wing skin/flesh with sausage.
Photo two: Use your fingers to rearrange/move around the sausage so it properly reshapes the wing, and then fill in the remaining spots with more sausage from the pastry bag.
Photo three: The finished wing, boned and stuffed, ready to be smoked!
I put some dry rub on my wings, and covered most of a rack in foil with a few holes poked in it, so it could catch any sausage drippings. Then I sprayed it with vegetable oil spray and placed the wings on. They smoked for a total of three hours, until they registered 160 F on a thermometer and looked nicely browned.
I think this recipe would work well with any sausage recipe, especially a nice, fennel-stuffed italian sausage. I used 24 wings and 3/4 pound of sausage to make this recipe. You could serve it with a dipping sauce, but really, it tastes delicious as-is. I did use a nice mustard bbq sauce, which I had made for the ribs that smoked alongside of these wings, but any mustard would do, a nice sweet chili sauce or even a spicy buffalo sauce would be great.
OH–and since they are time consuming to make, they also freeze well after you smoke them…for up to 3 months. Woohoo! Smoked pork and chicken whenever I want it. This could get dangerous.