Michael's Easy Chicken

Posted: Sunday, September 03, 2000

Use mixed chicken pieces. Rub each leg, thigh or breast with Cavender's all-purpose Greek seasoning thoroughly. Let sit for 45 minutes covered. Cook all chicken on low heat on second tier of grill. Turn all chicken often. The secret is to cook the chicken slowly with the lid closed. Total grill time is approximately one hour.

Barbecue Sauce

1 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2/3 cup salad oil

1 1/4 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lemon sliced thin

2 teaspoons minced garlic

3 teaspoons fresh ginger

2 tablespoons dry mustard

Mix together in a sauce pan and heat until blended. Use with beef, pork or lamb.

Grill tip: Do not apply barbecue sauce to any meat until meat is sufficiently cooked all the way. Turn heat down low and apply sauce with a brush. Coat and turn meat several times. Serve meat with extra sauce.

HEAD:Relax, turn on the TV, say 'ahh'

TITUSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- A root canal in the comfort of your own home?

That's soon a possibility in one section of northwestern Pennsyl-vania, where a mobile dentistry practice has taken to the road -- a first for the state.

Dr. Kraig Stetzer and an assistant will work in several rural areas starting Sept. 12 from their 40-foot office on wheels.

Services will include examinations, cleanings, X-rays, simple extractions, fillings, crowns, dentures and root canals.

HEAD:Alaska: The last barbecue frontier!


In my group of friends, food and knowing how to cook it, are serious business. We get through Alaska's long winters by organizing theme dinner parties and wine tastings where everyone brings copies of their recipes to share.

In summer, we mostly cook outdoors and don't need much of a reason to throw an impromptu grill party. Southerners may be the ordained grill masters, and the techies in Silicon Valley probably throw parties with built-in patio grills to show off their Asian-Mexican-South Pacific fusion foods, but Alaska is a "hot" barbecue spot, too.

Alaskans like to grill salmon and halibut almost as much as they like to catch it. All summer long, up and down the Kenai River, at cabins, lodges, summer homes and in back yards everywhere, Alaskans are smoking, grilling and barbecuing, which helps to explain how it was that we bought a $3,645 grill recently.

It all began with the hibachi when we were newlyweds and didn't have any money, any room, any children or any cooking experience. Our next purchase was a Weber kettle charcoal grill. The Weber was invented in 1952 and quickly became America's favorite suburban accessory.

While our two boys were growing up, my husband, Michael, increased his grilling skills and learned how to cook with charcoal, how to marinate various cuts of meat and how to mix up his favorite rubs to add more pizzazz to steaks.

About five years ago, we bought a gas grill. Our interest in outdoor cooking kept growing. To us, a perfect summer evening was to relax at our friends' cabin on the Kenai River and cook there while the river swept by.

We experimented with our own homemade barbecue sauces, and we challenged each other as to who could grill the perfect king salmon.

Last winter, our friend Steve talked to us about how much he'd like to have a "really big" grill and smoker so he could smoke his special pork ribs for "really big" groups.

Steve searched the Internet and found someone in Nahunta, Ga., who made the exact product he was looking for. The manufacturer sent us some snapshots of the Lang Smoker. We talked it over, and six of us (three couples) decided to buy the "grill of all grills."

Every time Steve talked about it, his face lit up.

"It's not just about smoking more ribs," he said. "It's about entertainment."

The manufacturer in Nahunta (population 950) had never shipped one of his grill-smokers to Alaska before. He was having a hard time finding a cheap freight rate.

"Is Alaska anywheres close to Colorado?" he asked.

We knew it was a lost cause. Steve's deluxe grill was never going to get to Alaska. After several weeks of waiting, the man from Nahunta called to say he found a way to ship it. Someone in Nahunta agreed to haul it up to Soldotna as a kind of vacation.

Bubba, as we fondly called the driver, left Georgia on a Monday in late June towing the grill-smoker up the Alaska Highway. Bubba pulled into Steve and Lisa's driveway in six days flat, everything intact except one broken taillight.

"It looks like a nuclear missile," I said when I first laid eyes on the 10-foot long black steel contraption.

It sat on its own trailer and had its own smokestack. It came equipped with a fire box attached to the rear of the cylinder and a warming oven on the side that could hold about 14 loaves of garlic bread. It had its own steel basket to transport the grill tools.

On the top, above the hinged lid, there was a 1-by-4-foot frame so we could install a custom sign. This grill was so large that, technically, it was supposed to be christened with its own name.

Steve couldn't wait to fire it up. It was time to test it. We had no idea how many bags of charcoal it would take. He got up early on Sunday morning and by 10 a.m., he was dressed in his Hawaiian shirt and smoking pork ribs in the middle of his driveway where Bubba had parked the grill.

Steve went through 60 pounds of charcoal.

By 4 p.m., the neighbors gathered around and sampled some of Steve's succulent smoked pork ribs. A few minutes later, a man pulled up in a pickup truck and asked us if we ever hired ourselves out to do special events because he needed someone at his company picnic.

"See, we're just like a band," Michael said. "Steve does the ribs and is sort of like the lead musician on the barbecue. We're the backup players. We do the side dishes and bring the music."

Grilling is our most ancient culinary art, according to the book, "Pacific Grilling: Recipes for the Fire From the Baja to the Pacific Northwest," by Denis Kelly.

"It brings us back to our roots and makes us yearn for that taste of the wild life."

We may be far away from the barbecue capitals of America, but Alaskans bring their own distinct experiences to the art of cooking outdoors. My friend Premo, one of our fellow investors, claims he grills outdoors in Anchorage all year long. In February, when it's around 10 or 15 degrees, he puts on his parka and still manages to grill steaks. It just takes longer, he said.

"Why do you like grilling so much?" I asked him.

"I'll let you in on a little secret," he said. "Women are usually the ones in charge of the kitchen, but you cook outdoors, everything centers around what time the steaks are going to be done, and the men are in control. And being the control freaks we are, we like that."

So far, we've used the Bubba grill-smoker about four times. A few Sundays ago, Steve hauled it to Premo's cabin on the Kenai River, and once again, Steve spent Sunday smoking pork ribs instead of playing golf. But this time, he also tried smoking some whole chickens. He lifted up the lid to show me. There they were, four whole chickens, each sitting regally on top of the four open beer cans roasting.

The idea for the "chicken butts on beer cans" came from another friend who swore that the steam from the beer would help make the chicken tender and juicy. She was right; the chicken was delicious.

Since summer is almost over, Premo is frantically finishing another in an endless series of his cabin projects. The "Grand Pavilion" is no ordinary picnic shelter, it's an engineering marvel. No matter how much rain we get in, or how much snow falls, nothing can stop us from firing up our grill-smoker and having an outdoor party, Alaska style, where the salmon and the people are always "wild."

The "Grand Pavilion" has become a part of our "barbecue band."

I recently heard that Martha Stewart is coming to Alaska to film a special on grilling Alaska salmon. (Martha Stewart probably builds her own grills from scrap metal.)

Ainsley Harriott, author of "Barbecue Bible" and host of his own PBS cooking show, travels around the world featuring exotic barbecue cuisine like Jamaican butterfly leg of lamb and South African grilled squash. Harriott hasn't brought his barbecue road show to Alaska yet, but I think he and Martha would be pleased by what they'd find here.

Alaskans can go a bit overboard with their outdoor living. Even the smoking and the grilling must be done in, well, a rather big way.

If either of them ever makes it to Soldotna, we'll be ready for them.

Kathy Tarr is the executive director for the Kenai Visitors and Convention Bureau and a member of the Central Peninsula Writers Group.

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