I have missed you! If I had known my cicada post was going to stay up as my most recent offering for the past six weeks, I might have picked something else….
The reason for my silence is a sad one. My dad passed away three weeks ago. The deterioration of his condition over these last few months tugged at our hearts and our conflicting responsibilities, with road trips, time away from work, and the long-distance parenting of teens on the one hand, and hospital visits, medical decisions, and assuming our best game face for my dad (and my mom) on the other. And then there came the time when there were no more options, no more decisions to be made…and we had to face the reality of saying goodbye to this wonderful man. Many of you have lived this, and I have a renewed appreciation for what you’ve undergone.
I had considered just quietly resuming my blog without mentioning it. After all, I prefer to keep the tone of my posts light-hearted, especially in a world that can sometimes be rather grim. I also didn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Death and grieving are difficult social topics, to say the least. We all want to console, to offer sympathy, but we worry that what we say will seem like empty platitudes. We feel helpless, not quite knowing what to say or do.
Rest assured, sympathy in any form is never meaningless. It is a kindness that can soothe. I have been very grateful for it.
I finally opted for saying something because I also value authenticity. I could not imagine resuming my writing and blogging without a public acknowledgment of my loss. My dad was my first crush. He loved me unconditionally. He made me feel I could accomplish anything. Missing him is as natural as breathing.
I know I will continue to grieve – some days will be more difficult than others – but I feel ready to get back to my routine. Focusing on the positive helps. I am blessed to have terrific memories to look back upon.
Here’s a special memory I want to share with you! It includes a recipe, just in time for Father’s Day and the backyard grilling season. It was originally written three years ago as a Father’s Day column for SocialIn Arlington. Enjoy!
Dad’s Secret to Great BBQ Chicken
We all know that Father’s Day gives us a chance to recognize the special dads in our lives. Perhaps, when we think of our fathers, we recall the games of catch, or the family road trips, or our favorite televised sporting events, or maybe those long workdays that dad had to put in – a sacrifice that, as adults, we now truly recognize.
While I have a lot of those kinds of memories, I always think of my dad as…the Griller. The man could make anything edible taste amazing when cooked over open flame. During the summer months, I thrived on steak, chicken, kabobs, pasta salad, and burnt marshmallows. As his only child, I learned all his tips and tricks – whether charcoal or gas, lighter fluid or a flick of the switch, it didn’t matter. He was the Grill Master, and I was his young Padawan. I learned The Way of the Tongs.
So in honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to share a family favorite that I turn to again and again: my dad’s trick for cooking juicy, skinless, fall-from-the-bone barbecue chicken.
6 chicken leg quarters (thigh and drumstick still attached). If you opt for chicken breasts, reduce cooking time by 10 minutes so they don’t dry out. But check for doneness. Always.
16 ounces of your favorite barbecue sauce (the thicker, the better)
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Carefully strip the skin from the raw chicken , washing BOTH the skin and the chicken and blotting everything dry. Do NOT discard the skin.
(NOTE: Since the original post, the USDA now recommends that raw chicken NOT be washed, because of risk of cross-contamination. Read more about it here: Washing Food: Does it promote food safety?)
Place the chicken quarters side-by-side on a generous square of heavy-duty foil, meaty sides up. If you think all six legs would make the packet too cumbersome – you’ll be flipping it on the grill – you can divide the legs between two packets, rather than having them all in one.
Place the skins loosely BACK ON TOP of the chicken legs, covering the meaty parts in particular. This will keep the chicken extra-moist, and will be ridiculously easy to take off before the sauce goes on.
Crimp the foil firmly around the edges to form a packet to seal in most of the juices. Some will escape during grilling, but don’t worry about that. You want a little room inside there – don’t wrap them tightly in the foil, as you would a potato.
Grill the packet(s) over a hot fire. For charcoal briquettes, that means they are all gray, and you can barely tolerate holding a hand over the coals. For a gas grill, set it to medium-high heat. Grill for 40 minutes, flipping the packet once after the first 20 minutes.
Take the packet(s) off the grill and cut open the foil (use oven mitts when handling – it’s going to be hot and rather messy). The skin will slide right off. Discard skin and foil.
Pour barbecue sauce into a shallow pan. Using tongs, DREDGE the chicken in the sauce, coating both sides. (We don’t mess around with brushes at our house. It’s all we can do not to lick our fingers). It’s a little tricky, because the chicken will want to come off the bone at this point. Show ‘em who’s boss.
Return the coated chicken to the grill, cooking for barely 2 minutes on each side, until the sauce is set.
Do you have a favorite recipe that reminds you of someone you care about? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,