Apple Smoked Chicken Thighs and Bacon Cheddar Potatoes
Vacation was good. Romping about the Montana mountains with elder brother, in a dusty, old Jeep. Pitching encampments aside gin-clear trout streams, and beneath aromatic pines. Morning views of frosted ramparts thrusting high into a wild, Montana sky. Days of misty mountain majesty. Rains drops on pine needles. And wily rainbow trout at the end of thin tippets. These are but the days we will remember. Where the mountains did rise, our souls soared, and the rivers ran below it.
I remember them indeed. A thousand miles and seven days later, I remember. And as I bank the coals to the back of the old kettle grill this evening, looking upon the familiar scene patron to the home patio, I recall the natural splendor our eyes beheld amid the beautiful contours of Montana. “God gave us memories“, I once heard, “So we could have roses in December“. I am smitten for the flowers. I tossed on a cup cake-sized chunk of apple wood, directly on the coals. The heat felt good on my hands, as I pondered some more my recent trip afield. The memories we come back with, I thunk, are why we go on a trip in the first place. This is why we take pictures and write things down in our note books – to remember.
Anyways, to the business of supper. As the amber shafts of sunlight struck against the Cottonwoods, I plunked down two chicken thighs over in-direct heat, seasoned very simply in smoked garlic salt. Salt that I cold smoked earlier this summer, amid tweety birds and lofty ambition, and tucked away for further use. Today was the day. Also wrapped up in foil, we have a humdinger. Several potatoes, diced to uniform thickness, patted with a little butter, some salt and pepper. A few manly pinches of shredded cheddar cheese, and of course every one’s meat fantasy, bacon, chopped and scattered amid the spuds, like ambassadors to the cholesterol gods. All this wrapped tight in a pocket of aluminum foil, and set over direct heat for to come of age, and to its destiny according to my belly.
I put on the black-enameled lid, tweaked the damper, and the smoke of apple wood almost immediately began to curl. A smile lit over my face. Any pit master proper aspires for this portion of the cook. This glorious string of moments where meat is sizzling, and smoke is rising. There is harmony and well-being and contentment in the fellowship of the coals. And you sit back in your BBQ chair, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, manly beverage at hand, and you simply survey your kingdom as it were. The angle of the sun, the banter of the birds, the wake of the muskrat propelling across the pond. I think half the reason people grill in the first place is to be out-of-doors. To bask in the inherent beauty patron to the pit.
Lifting the lid to check in on the plunder, the thighs have taken on a beautiful golden-brown color, wrought from the wages of smoke and heat. I flipped them once right along with the foiled potatoes. And mercy it smelled good!
Pit Tip: If you are smoking meat and want to simultaneously cook a side that doesn’t so much abide with a smokey taste, like potatoes, you can never go too far wrong with foiling them. The foil blocks the smoke whilst preserving the seasonings you so lovingly dappled there. And the world and your tummy is a better place for having done so. Tin foil and the pit keeper have a most understanding relationship.
The cheese in the foil married up kindly with the potatoes, sort of merging into them in a delightful, cheesy fusion. And the bacon basted the whole thing like only bacon can. Glory! Eating these potatoes, one sort of got the feeling he should check to make sure his health insurance premiums were up to date. Anyways, when the thighs are done, and the spuds are soft to the touch, plate-up the ensemble and sally forth to your loved ones. Note how the savory aromas of deeds well done trail you in to the house, and how heads will turn. Place the plate of steaming plunder on the counter, sprinkle on some more shredded cheese, and declare the supper bell hath rung. Mop up the drool as necessary.
Apple Smoked Garlic Chicken Thighs and Bacon Cheddar Potatoes. Man! Not quite a trip to mountain folds of Montana, but still something I might just remember a while. Something to do with where the wood smoke rises, and the flowers that which gently bloom there. Amen.