Oak-Smoked Chicken

Lucas and I have been on our own this weekend – Jean and Merrill have been living it up, Princess-Style, in North Carolina, with the rest of the Princessi…


so that gave us an opportunity to try smoking again. Not tobacco, but food. I’ve always loved the allure of the charcoal barbeque, and getting away from briquettes to use hardwood charcoal instead was a first good step. Trader Joe’s has it cheap.
A second step which made a world of difference was going for indirect heat, and furthermore, smoking my food. I really nailed it last night. I soaked some white oak chunks (thank you, wood flooring job) for a couple hours, then set up the grill with hot charcoal on both sides and the hardwood in the middle.
Slap the chicken and corn (thank you, garden and neighbors) on the grill and close the lid, leaving just enough room for air to get in (1/2″ or so) and leave for 10 minutes. Open the lid, flip it all, another 10 minutes. Third time, do it quick ’cause the hardwood will “POOF” into an inferno now as soon as it gets enough air-just close the lid, even if it does – the smoke will extinguish the flames. Another 10 minutes. That’s 30 minutes altogether. Your chicken (bone-in) should bend at the joints with a little effort and not really snap back.
I used a simple recipe for a dry-rub that compliments the smoke: 1 part sage, 1 part thyme, 1 part salt, 1/2 part pepper. I used 2 teaspoons per part, as I had five quarters with which to deal. I rubbed the mixture directly onto the flesh, after lifting the skin, but kept the skin on for cooking to keep in the juices and spices. NICE. I’m looking forward to the next one. The corn really complimented it.
Anyway, Lucas and I have enjoyed ourselves. We made beer yesterday and today (OK, I made it while he was napping, but he’s here even so); a robust porter to which I added some cayenne peppers from our garden to approximate Sweet Water’s Chipotle Porter (Ed’s Cayenne Porter has a ring to it), and a Belgian Wit with an extra 8 oz. of Belgian Candi Sugar for some kick (1-2% abv I think).
This weekend we’ve gone swimming, on walks with the dogs (he’s holding their leashes now, quite proud of himself), bounced on the trampoline, colored, and visited Burke Lake Park to see one of the summer kids performances (Captain Jack). Lots of fun.
*Someone cleaned out their garage and dumped it about 50 feet in to our drive yesterday evening. I considered keeping the leather couch and love seat for a while, but I’m not on my own or in college anymore, and even a free weathered-looking leather livingroom set had limited appeal then. I called the police, who found some old bills in a briefcase, identified the culprits, and had them haul it away. I would have like to have met them, but everything was gone before we got back from swimming today.
Speaking of random acts of dumping, National Night Out, the Neighborhood Watch “take back the night” (Suburbanites have to have something they can feel a part of – protest movements in DC are generally too far to drive) party in a neighborhood near you is happening this next Tuesday. The cops show up to get food and match names (This is Ed Dyer, calling about the kids at the tunnell again) to faces. Get in touch with your group and meet your friendly neighborhood baby boomers. It may be too main stream for Gen Xers, I don’t know.