Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

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, IMG_08401and 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.


Apple Smoked Cajun Chicken Breasts. A Savory Bouquet of Crisp Spicy Skin and Smoked Juicy Meat, Sided with a Lovely Bed of Buttered Green Beans. Oh Buddy!

24 responses

  1. That is just beautiful.
    I love running across someone who writes with passion and feeling about food.

    Merry Christmas!

    December 24, 2013 at 10:40 am

  2. Amen to that, good food ROCKS!

    December 24, 2013 at 11:17 am

  3. Oh that looks so yummy! Enjoy your holidays!

    December 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    • Thanks Kate. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Take care!

      December 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm

  4. Simple Thoughts

    Looks great!

    Can’t imagine being outdoors in that kind of cold. I’m on the Gulf Coast, and think I am going to freeze to death if it is below 50. πŸ™‚

    Merry Christmas!

    December 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    • Haha, oh man. Yeah its odd what a person can get used to. Thanks much and merry Christmas to you too!

      December 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

  5. Lyndal Studdert

    Love the commitment. In ‘winter’ here in Brisbane Australia – lows of 15 degrees Celsius – I think BBQ season is over. You’ve inspired me to keep grilling.

    December 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    • Ah very cool! Yes, never a season not worthy of the grill. For if we had to wait for the perfect weather, we might be waiting some time to grill again. And that just ain’t right.

      December 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

  6. Grilling challenges in Texas tend to be in the summer…when it’s 100+ degrees! why would anyone want to light a fire?
    Today, I am tempted to try out my new grilling tools on the leg of lamb I got for Christmas dinner.

    December 25, 2013 at 8:01 am

    • Oh very nice, yes, you must get that leg of lamb on the pit! Man! I reckon a hundred degree at the pit is more uncomfortable than a zero degree one. I’ll take the cold I guess.

      Take care and merry Christmas

      December 25, 2013 at 10:00 am

  7. As I used to say when everyday at 3:00 PM an elderly couple in our neighborhood went for their afternoon “constitutional” in Burnsville, MN bending headway into gale-force winds in sub-zero temperatures…”These people are crazy!”

    But…after a few years my boys and I were out on the side yard playing football on frozen ground we had to shovel free of snow!

    Minnesotans know how to do winter! Your chicken breasts look great.

    May the warmth of Christmas fill your home and your heart this year!

    December 25, 2013 at 8:45 am

    • I love it. Good story. Yes people don’t think you can at all be comfortable, outside, in the winter. But the truth is with the right clothing and little exercise , you will be quite comfortable. I suppose a good attitude don’t hurt none either.

      Well on that note, I’ll let you apply yet another layer of suntan lotion amid your Ecuadorian paradise!

      Take care, John.

      December 25, 2013 at 10:07 am

  8. I am so glad I found your blog. I wish you and your clan a very happy and prosperous New Year.

    December 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    • Thanks much, Richard, and like wise to you and yours.

      Take care.

      December 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

  9. chefmo73

    If I haven’t said so, Patrons of the Pit will be one place I will be visiting frequently. Your imaginative writing is impeccable, and with lot of thought. Clearly passion is driven from the subject. And someday I hope to shake your hands. Happy New Year

    December 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    • Mohan, thank you very kindly for your encouraging words! Man, that’s very sweet. Take care and happy new year to you likewise!

      December 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

  10. Liz

    That chicken looks gooooood! Though I still wouldn’t grill for it. Thinking you guys have a gene I do not. But am so glad you have it so I can read of your frozen adventures. Still cold here! and agreeing on the “ice management.” Was it too cold for the chemicals (or whatever they use) to work? Or were they not applied quickly enough? Three weeks later and I’m still sliding at stop signs.

    Hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright and here’s to a toasty New Year.

    December 27, 2013 at 12:24 am

    • Thank you Liz. I hear you. I admire the blokes who go climb Mount Everest, but I have no urge to do it myself. Reading about it from a soft chair, fireside , is well enough indeed!

      On the road chemicals, I had just heard on the news is all, that they don’t work too good under ten degrees. The way this winter is going we’ll have icy roads till June!

      Merry belated Christmas, Liz , and happy New Years to you as well

      December 27, 2013 at 6:48 am

  11. Lovely food! will have a bite of that…or maybe the whole chicken πŸ˜›

    December 27, 2013 at 5:11 am

  12. So well written, loved reading it πŸ™‚

    December 29, 2013 at 5:18 am

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