Having the grill out on the screened porch means that even when it’s bucketing down rain in a torrential fashion we can still enjoy those flavors which evoke sunny, carefree afternoons with the frolicking and the skipping and the frisbees and such. Though I have recently been informed that the grill is no longer welcome on said porch and needs to be trundled out to sit next to my studio until winter. Clearly my wife hates America.
Spatchcocking chickens makes them oh-so easy to grill, and they cook in half the time a whole one needs. It also allows one to save the raw back and combine it with the grilled bones to make an extra-flavorful broth later on. If, say, one has also (hypothetically) recently smoked a couple of chickens for an orgiastic wine dinner, then all of the above can be brothed together into a smoky, grillicious profundity of a stock that promises to elevate (again, hypothetically) a humble risotto into the stratosphere. But I’m getting ahead of myself- that will be a later post.
Rainy days seem appropriate for gathering nettles; they have such a dark green smell and taste that evokes wet Earth. I snipped a pile of tops- they’re already pretty tall, and getting woody- and washed them, then beat them into some of the superlative local polenta from WHF. Our woodland nettles are softer than the field ones, so they disintegrate beautifully under the whisk. Add a grate of some hard local cheese rind (no idea what it was) and a pat of cultured butter, and you’ve got yourself some haute-rustic grits to undergird the bird in fine style. I mixed up a sauce from our last plum jam (that didn’t fully gel, making it an excellent ingredient) some tomato paste, a little leftover BBQ sauce from last time, vinegars, maple syrup, and old red wine from the fridge and slathered the chicken with it once on the grill, and once just before serving.
To top it off, we caught a bit of fortune from the hard times that have descended upon all of us; a local wine store is closing, so I was able to score some things at a steep discount, among which some of the Mas de Gourgonnier rosé from Les Baux, right over the Lubéron from my old neighborhood in Provence. It’s organic to boot, and at $12 a bottle instead of $18 it tasted even better than usual.