When The Mercury Drops: Sub-Zero Chicken Breasts
“There is just something emancipating about putting meat to flame, and declaring that it is good. Something poetic, yet raw. Something in the simple act which tugs on tender strings that which tarries deep in our souls. And the cold is no governor of this, tho the weatherman might say otherwise. “-POTP
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all the weathermen said it would get mighty cold. One said 14 below for these parts, and even colder still, up way of the frigid tiers across northern Minnesota. Wind chills would plummet to dangerous levels, they warned. And children should be kept inside, the elderly too, swaddled in warm blankets and faced with hot mugs of steaming cocoa cocoa. Machinery didn’t fare much better. Automobiles were going down like black hawk helicopters today, and you could see their cold carcasses scattered and abandoned in apocalyptic fashion along many a roadside. Why did Gramma have to live over the river, and through the woods too! It got so cold, in point of fact, that the chemicals the city put down on the roads for to melt the ice there, were at best, ineffective, paltry attempts at ice management. Things would just have to wait, the weatherman said, for a heat wave of about ten degrees or so. Things would have to wait indeed. Everything that is, but my supper this night. Which off-hand and by the way, was out smoking on the pit. So turn up your collar and let’s go have a look.
There is nothing quite so fine on a frosty winter’s eve than flames rocketing out of one’s pit. And when the mercury levels have dropped out of sight, and you are to question your very sanity, oh how sweet the British thermal units are which radiate from that fiery kettle. In other words, and to the point, the heat from the pit felt dang good! Moreover, I had two portly chicken breasts on the grill tonight, opposite the hot coals. Each one dusted nicely in a, spicy Cajun rub. Heat people. A patron of the pit will take it in any form or incarnation, on sporting nights such as these.
You all know how to grill chicken. There is nothing special here about the process. In-direct, flipping frequently, and cooked until the juices run clear. We did add a bit of apple wood for good measure, because that is how we roll. The rest, by and far, was left to the grilling fates. Indeed, sub-zero grilling is always an interesting time. In case of point, I had finished washing my hands, like BBQ people often do, and went out to the pit to check in on the evening’s plunder. Let it be said, and re-stated here, that super-chilled aluminum tongs and slightly wet hands provide a moment of clarity in sub-zero weather. Not as humbling as licking frozen steel, which is a rite of passage for a Minnesotan it seems, but genuinely notable, none-the-less. It took a little thawing out over the BBQ before the tongs peeled off my hand. Glory! Not that the victory endured tho, for soon the keen northern winds had in turn seared my left eye lid shut, which might have been my only inconvenience, had not I also had a wind-chill induced ice cream head ache coming on. Son!
Ah yes, winter grilling. Why would any one be so daft, you might inquire.
Because there is ambiance in the coals, I suppose. Camaraderie in flame. It is not like we don’t have a perfectly acceptable heat source out there, bellowing forth its glories anew. Oh we do indeed. And we embrace it all the more. It’s just the line is much sharper, tracing that hallowed ground between fire and ice. Between life and death. And you are drawn unto it with an enlarged capacity to appreciate it, nay to revel in it. And where the apple smoke gently rises there too is also peace. There is just something emancipating about putting meat to flame, and declaring that it is good. Something poetic, yet raw. Something in the simple act which tugs on tender strings that which tarries deep in our souls. And the cold is no governor of this, tho the weatherman might say otherwise. Amen.