Monday, June 05, 2006

Our Favorite Chicken

I don't think there's anything more thrilling than barbecuing a bird.

It sits under the dome of the grill cover, on the side opposite the fire, and it slowly, patiently soaks up smoke and heat and takes on all of the most desirable qualities: crispy skin, juicy meat, deep and smoky flavor. As you walk by and try desperately to resist taking a peek, which will delay your eating time considerably, you're intoxicated by the dark, savory aroma.

Eventually, the bird is done, and you get to devour it!

For this little Amish chicken, I used a dry spice rub and no sauce. Paprika, mustard powder, cumin, coriander, chipotle, brown sugar salt... mmm...

I must give some props to Enzo the grillmaster, who coached me on the phone and convinced me not to cut any corners. See, my charcoal chimney had turned to rusty dust, and I was hedging my bets and hoping I could cook the chicken with one round of briquettes. After all, if I had to add more coals, how would I light them without a chimney? "Dude, if you're not gonna get a chimney, you might as well just throw the bird in the oven." He was right. Margy and I ran out and got what we needed.

An hour-plus after setting the chicken on the rack -- with the addition of a few hot coals and a few more water-smoked hickory chips around the hour mark -- Margy and I sat down to marvel at our dinner. ("Look," I said to her parrot, "we're eating your cousin!") We made quick work of the legs, drumsticks, and wings, and we saved the breasts for what I hope will be the smokiest, most delectable chicken salad ever. I'll often remove the skin when I make chicken salad, but this time there's not a chance.

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