As the winter tempest barrels across this mighty country, I stoke the coals in the grill, banking them to the side of the old kettle. Plumes of heat bellow forth and feel good on my face, and my old wool smoking jacket feels “just right” as I place a small piece of hickory on the fire, which dutifully ignites, as if on queue to a higher calling. Hands to my pockets, I pause momentarily, to fancy the fire some, and to consider the day. To inhale that cool winter air, and declare that the moment is well here at the pit. It’s only like 30 degrees, which compared to what it has been, well, I may as well be grilling on the white sand beaches of Waikiki. Balmy! But a wall of snow approaches steadfastly from the East, as it sweeps across the northern states, leaving a wreckage of automobiles marooned in it’s wake. There are times when it is good to leave the house, and times when it is not. Times to build a fire and hunker down, as they say. We Patrons of the Pit, we know just what to do. It is our second nature. Thus, on the grill tonight: Bone-in Chicken Breasts, and some Bacon Cheese Onion Buds. As my fellow patron is fond of saying, “Bam!”
Start with the onion first, one of them big onions bout the size of an ostrich head, as it needs about an hour on the grill. Slice it like a blooming onion, or in a checker board pattern, going almost, but not quite all the way through. You want the onion, like so many rock bands we’ve grown to love, to just stay together. Next order of business is to dash it with a smattering of your favorite seasoning. I used some Cajun flavors I had laying about, but you can use what ever. Then lay two or three strips of bacon on top, because bacon is good, and should never be considered otherwise. Gently set the onion monument on the grill, over in-direct heat of course. Rotate once or twice in the next hour, at the discretion of your pit master instincts and beverage levels. The bacon will of course baste your onion as only bacon can.
Twenty minutes into the cook, put on the chicken breasts. I used the succulent bone-in sort, which renders the meat with more flavor I believe. The rub this time around was of the home-made variety, a sweet and salty concoction with just enough heat to make it interesting. Anyways, I thus dusted the breasts liberally and then seared them first over direct heat, to crisp them up, and then tucked them back by the onion for the rest of the cook. Lid on, dampers cracked nicely, and a light blue smoke, patron to smoldering hickory, wafting into a gray, Minnesota sky, with blizzards, and white-out looming distinctly on the horizon. It don’t get much more pleasant than that.
The last step, after about of hour, is to chop up the bacon and sprinkle it back over the onion with a whole lot of cheddar cheese! Glory! And pass the cardiologist!
Hickory Smoked Chicken Breasts and Bacon Cheddar Onion Buds hot off the grill.
No finer way to hunker down for a winter storm than that. Bam!
Waking up to a blizzard is always a pleasant thing. This is especially so when it happens on a Sunday, your hallowed day off, and the snows have fallen as such to bring the roadways asunder, and the day, for better or for worse, to a very slow ebb. The sort of day where all the smart people of the world like to hunker down. A day of enforced leisure, and carefully calculated R&R. And whilst the weather rages, and your neighbors all moan their names in vain, you are at once in your glory, forced to slow life down to it’s basics, and watch the drifts slowly mount outside your frosted window. These are the sorts of days tailor made for pit masters, and the inherent leisure patron to the craft. Such was the case here in the upper mid-west today. And while some pull the cords on their snow blowers, and others curl by their fireplaces, we Patrons of the Pit have other things in mind. No finer time, than these days of flying snow, to light the BBQ, and put some meat to flame.
There is no such thing as the off-season for an avid keeper of the grill. To do so would mean to throw in your white towel, and the notion of that chews about as well as half-cooked brisket. Brethren of the Flame are a hardy lot, and foul weather, blizzards not with-standing, shall keep us from our intended spoils. Thus, on the menu today, hickory grilled pork chops with a sweet, home-made marinade.
Before lighting the grill:
Mix together this tasty marinade:
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
After marinating your pork chops, and putting them on the grill over indirect heat, and after adding a chunk of smoke wood of your choice to the coals, then be sure to put the lid on so as to thwart the inclement of weather which brews about thee. Then proceed to take up residence some place cozy with a view of the pit, with a lovely beverage in hand, and enjoy thus how the smoke curls from your vent, and how a thousand and one falling snow flakes vanish with aplomb, as they gently kiss your grill. Raise your flag of leisure now, and stand against the forces of haste. Return to grill on occasion to tend your meat, applying your skills as needed. Put on some Christmas music to complete the ambiance, and tarry quietly in the wake of deeds well done. For it is our belief, or at least our sincere hope, that time spent grilling is not deducted from our allotted lifespans. Which explains I suppose, why it is we tend to BBQ in blizzards.