I’ve been quiet for far too long, I have a list of excuses but I won’t be boring you with them. The garden proved to throw out some awesome things at the end of the summer, just when I was thinking I’d been a complete failure. We had aubergines and green beans, beetroot, swiss chard, lettuces, yellow courgettes and more. All from our tiny little mostly sunless garden. I need to get my head round it next year so that it doesn’t all come at once and at the end of the summer. More planning will be implemented and an earlier start. 2013 is going to be the year that I become an organised person.
Now…to the point of this post. In September we went to stay with the wonderful Carneys in Virginia, one of the Carneys being Van of the pulled pork fame. Some very good friends of ours had had an amazing wedding just up the east coast so we pootled down via New York to see them. Arriving at their house in Virginia was so enormously welcome after a few hectic days in a hot sweaty city. They live in what seems like the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and stunning countryside.
I need to learn from them as they grow fruit and veg like I’ve never seen before – melons, squash, peppers, yellow beans, etc, etc. They may have a favourable climate but they have another thing on their side which seems to be an inherent understanding of how it all works and also a shed load more knowledge. Hats off to them.
While we were staying, it emerged that a good idea would be to have an all day chicken smoking session, this was only the day after we’d spent all day brewing beer, I’m hoping you’re starting to get a picture of how these guys roll…?
To start the smoking process you need wood. Off we dutifully went to chop down some dying trees, I didn’t exactly do any chopping, but at least I helped carry it.
There was much chat about how best to construct the bbq / smoking oven and several semi-architectural constructions were discussed, or even debated, then constructed and demolished and re-conconstructed.
In the end though it was settled that the BBQ was a good solution. Importantly though, we had a small fire beside the BBQ heating up the wood (mostly hickory, some cherry and maple too) to add when needed.
We started by rubbing the chicken with a paprika, fennel and salt combination and then onto the BBQ it went, lid on and at a low temperature, I reckon about 100c – read by a little thermometer stuck into the air vent and watched with Jenning’s and Lain’s beady eyes. It cooked for a good long five hours during which beers were drunk and the rest of the meal was constructed.
We went true southern style with macaroni and cheese (or perhaps mac n’ cheese) made by James, a coleslaw made by yours truly and Van whipped up some corn bread. The whole thing together was truly absolutely incredible. The most tender, juicy and fantastically smoky chicken I’ve ever eaten and all the other dishes worked perfectly with it. I’ve said it before, but the Americans really do know how to BBQ (well this family does anyway). I urge you to try this – maybe wait until spring and maybe you’ll need to buy the wood, but you can certainly do the rest just the same and it seriously is worth the five hour wait.