Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Welcome Back Winter: Northern Tier BBQ

We are betwixt by the fire and by the ice. That oft volatile, yet seasonal line between winter’s bond and that of a lush, green lawn. Of snow banks and sun burn. Of golf clubs and wind chill. Of spring in Minnesota. This evening, upon the outer crust of the midlands of April, standing over a beautiful bed of coals, working the pit,  admiring a lawn full of grass whilst blizzards gather headlong in the west, I am reminded yet again, of the heady pleasures of Minnesota BBQ. Sleet taps like ball bearings over the land now, and the cold wind curls around the old kettle grill – the wood smoke wrapped in eddies. Perhaps this is the reason you never hear our state mentioned on the same pages like that of Texas, South Carolina, and Kansas City, when it comes to BBQ. If those blokes had to BBQ in sub-zero temperatures for fifty percent of the year, perhaps we northern wannabes would tally a might higher in their counts. Its not easy, let me tell you,  fighting off wind chill induced hypothermia while procuring a perfectly executed rack of ribs. But even so, some body has to do it, and we are up here despite, giving it a go. For it is the journey anyways, that we favor most in BBQ. The rest sorts itself out, by and by.


On the grill tonight, blizzard or not, we’re doing up a house favorite – BBQ chicken quarters.I know you’re tempted in the grocery aisles to pick up your packages of boneless chicken breast, but I have long held to the notion, that birds we’re designed to have their bones in them. More over, that the bone imparts a noticeably better flavor on your meat’s end game. Indeed, we are men, and we just know how ever it is men know things, that meat on the bone is poetically correct, and the very best way to go. And chicken quarters have lots of bones, beautifully placed alongside vast reserves of meat. It is a good thing. A worthy bone to meat ratio. Thus, and amid the falling sleet, the quarters were rubbed down in olive oil, and dutifully dusted in a liberal fashion with Grill Mates Chicken Rub. This while the fire matured, and the darkened, snow-laden clouds advanced upon our fair hamlet.


As usual, well that is if your interested in a crispier skin, we seared these lovely quarters a couple minutes per side, over some hot coals. Then of course tucked them back, to the cool side of the grill for the rest of the ride. We used apple wood for the smoke flavor tonight. Apple is an apt choice for all things poultry, and one can nary go wrong using it. Just a chunk. You do not want it bellowing like a choo choo train, as pretty as it may look. Nice thin wisps of smoke are what you’re after. Too much smoke is actually possible, and over-doing it has been known to result in bitter tasting meat. Indeed, it is well to think of smoke perhaps as a seasoning, and not an ingredient, like so many newcomers to the BBQ sciences postulate. Anyways,  the lid thus was put into place, and the smoke began to curl. And for a while, tho the winter tempest was conspiring,  all the world was right. That glorious, contented feeling, patron to wafting wood smoke, and savory meat sizzling quietly aside hot embers. The last ten minutes of the cook, I went ahead and applied the BBQ sauce. Brush strokes of a Meat Mona Lisa! The aromas of smoked chicken and apple wood a waft in the chill, April air. Man! Say what you will, but this is living!


Ain’t too many things finer before a spring snow storm, than a steaming plate of good BBQ chicken. Meat on the bone. It not only sets a man straight  in his ways, but motions him to accept the prevailing weather scenarios with aplomb. To be OK straddling that curious but seasonal line the sand right now, which seems so privy to both fire and ice. Good BBQ knows no meteorological boundaries.  It can’t you see, as we won’t allow such foolery, less we keepers of the northern flame would have to hang up our tongs half the year long. And that just ain’t right. Its not right at all.

In the morning, winter had returned, making itself at home on the pit once again. So be it. For a hearty flame still burns here, deep in the frigid north. And the wood smoke shall rise again. Amen.


21 responses

  1. Amen indeed my Northern Brethren. I too am tucking in for the Wintery blast courtesy of a system to the South. Still too cold to nap beside my smoker, and my sleepy motorcycle continues to silently beckon. Ah Winter … the icy grasp you hold. Wave your proud flag high Brothers … and, stay hungry. The Carnivore.

    April 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    • I know it. A pit side nap seems like the hankerings of dreams at best right now. Oh well. This is how spring in the North is supposed to be I suppose. Like good BBQ, it too takes its time.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:14 am

  2. jalal michaelsabbagh.

    Excellent..Worth the time.Greetings.jalal

    April 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm

  3. Liz

    a Meat Mona Lisa 🙂 You are braver souls than I as our grill has yet to be uncovered. But your chicken breasts are incentive to get grilling for sure. Lovely as always, fine Patrons.

    April 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    • Thank you Liz. The snows will melt off your grill soon enough, and the sun will be warm there. The official grilling Month isn’t until May, so technically, you’re not behind schedule or anything. We winter grillers are just daft is all. Least wise that’s what we’ve been told.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:35 am

      • Liz

        My favorite folks are those of the daft variety 🙂

        April 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

  4. Oh boy. That’s some extreme love of the craft. Makes me wonder if I’d be as committed and I’d like to think so. But I’m a spoiled lad out here in the west where my biggest complaint is a fog bank from Half Moon bay. And even that’s temporary. I doff my cap to the pit masters. Grill on my brothers. Grill On.

    April 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    • Thanks much good Sir. Judging from what I’ve read on your blog, I would postulate that if the blizzards unwarrantedly descended upon your meteorologically spoiled village, that you would have little issue laying meat to flame in your Quincho. Yes, I do believe you would have it in you. I do indeed.

      April 13, 2013 at 9:48 am

  5. Great post as always! I’ve got to tell you that every time I’m at my grill, I can’t help but think of how awesome your blog is. Keep it up!

    April 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm

  6. Reblogged this on A Growing Family and commented:
    This gets me excited for MeatLover’s Fest Memorial Day Weekend.. Patrons of the Pit does it right in the north. I need to put my big boy pants on and get the grill cleared off.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

  7. I’m so motivated to fire up the Barbie. It needs a good cleaning after this very long winter and frigid Spring. Yet I would so be the one to grab the breasts. I get the whole meat off the bone thing. My little boys even beg for it. When they do, I take them out for wings. Okay, not the same. You have given me some courage now to brave the bone in requests.

    April 13, 2013 at 6:07 am

  8. Another extremely well-written piece that accurately captures the calming experience of the pit against the backdrop of the idiosyncrasies of Spring. (Love the video!) What a contrast between here and there. Down here in sunny SW Florida, I’ve already turned on the A/C for what is typically a six-month run. But I remember those days when I lived in Colorado – more than once I was outside grillin’ in the midst of a “Springtime In The Rockies” snowstorm! 🙂 Keep up the good work, your blog just gets more awesome with every post!

    April 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    • Wow, thank you kindly Willcjr. Man, grilling in the Rockies…It probably don’t get no better than that! Come to think of it, I have grilled in the Rockies a time or two. Yup, it don’t get no better. Grilling in Florida is pleasant too I presume. Carry on!

      April 13, 2013 at 1:40 pm

  9. Pingback: News from around the BBQ Blogsphere | The Arrogant Swine

  10. “Meat Mona Lisa?” Weird, but strangely beautiful. Nicely done!

    April 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm

  11. Pingback: News from around the BBQ Blogsphere | The Arrogant Swine

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