I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

September 28, 2009

The last summer supper

It's official....fall is here. Not just the date of the first day of fall, which passed us last week, but now it actually feels like fall in the city that I spend most of my time. The leaves on the trees in Ojai are starting to turn brown and dry up, the ones fallen on the ground are crackly under my feet as I walk up the road to my office. Some of the liquid amber trees are making the glorious change from bright green to amber, orange and cranberry. And blessedly, the heat has been replaced today with temperatures that don't make me want to weep when I take a step outside my chilly air conditioned office. For weeks and months I have endured triple digit heat at work while my loved ones on the coast are semi cranky at an 85 degree high...no sympathy from me my friend....Some people love the heat, embrace it and can bask in the rays on a daily basis like lizards. Not me. I do love summer for so many reasons, but fall is definitely a preferred season for me when it comes to the weather.

Tonight I think we will be cooking our last summer meal and saying good bye to dining on the patio. Soon it will be too cool to cook everything on the barbecue and enjoy the last bit of sunshine at 7:00 at night. The sun starts to set earlier, the chill sets in and all of a sudden I find myself no longer craving fresh from the garden vegetables and sweet corn with our grilled meats. Instead I get to open the door to my house or moms house and the aromas of slow cooked chowders, soups and stews will greet me at the threshold. Football season has started and instead of chatting outside on the patio, we gather in the living room around the fireplace and big screen rooting for our favorite teams.

Tonight we light the barbecue when it is already dark, throw on some brined & later sauced chicken legs & thighs, boil up some sweet corn and toss up a chopped salad full of fresh veggies including the last of the sweet 100 cherry tomatoes from the front yard. Good bye summer, it's been nice, but I am ready for the autumn.

As dinner was a rather simple affair, the recipe for BBQ chicken, chopped salad and boiled corn is not really necessary, therefore I will just share a method of preparing the chicken for the grill that I think is pretty awesome!

Chicken can be good, great or just so so....it is not always my first choice when reaching for protein. I have found the trick to moist flavorful chicken is to brine it before cooking to keep in the juices and infuse the meat with a sweet and salty taste that brings a rather boring bird to a new level. You can infuse the brine with herbs, spices, peppercorns and alternate liquids such as apple cider, but your basic brine is 4 cups water, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup kosher salt. Bring the water to a slight boil and let come to room temperature. Pour over meat and refrigerate-how big the meat is is going to determine how long you should brine it. Chicken quarters are good for 1-2 hours, a whole chicken can be left in the brine for a full day. Make sure there is enough brine to completely cover the meat. If you are in a hurry and need your brine quick, increase the salt & sugar a bit and chill with ice cubes.

Drain and rinse the meat and pat dry thoroughly. Your bird is now ready for the BBQ, oven or saute pan-the skin will be crispy and golden and the meat will be moist and plump.

We fancied up some bottled barbecue sauce with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, cayenne and garlic salt and slathered it on once the chicken was completely cooked. It was definitely a good way to see the summer come to an end!

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