Usually the 4th of July holiday finds Bill and I at home, chilling out, having some wine and watching random fireworks from our back deck. This year, however, we ventured out to a friend’s house to celebrate our nation’s birthday together.
When you’re wine snobs like us but don’t have the budget for Caymus as a daily drinker, you have to carefully choose your wine to balance cost and quality. Here’s the two we brought to share, Ergot tempranillo (Spain) and Gascon Malbec (Argentina). These two run about $10.99 a bottle at our local wine store, making them a budget-friendly vino, and are very impressive for the price.
We had an appetizer of a chevre goat cheese from Cole’s Lake Dairy (local Georgia dairy) I got in my CSA box. I don’t have a picture of it because it was gone in a matter of moments. Um, it was super yum…trust me.
Our salad was a tasty mixture of lettuce leaves, cucumber and red bell pepper (provided by our gracious host) and green peppers and cherry tomatoes from my CSA box. I made a dressing of equal parts honey (local), balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Our host used his croutons to soak up the rest of the dressing in his salad bowl so I think he liked it 🙂 Nothing better than easy and tasty.
The main event centered around a 3.2 lb. pastured chicken from Nature’s Harmony Farm. Using a combination of a few recipes from this website I brined the bird for about four hours, then dried it off and headed to our host’s house. Using the rub recipe they recommend for chicken, we drizzled the bird with olive oil and saturated it with the rub. I felt kind of like I was molesting the bird by rubbing my fingers all over its naked skin, but Bill didn’t seem upset so I guess it’s ok. The rubbed bird went onto the smoker/grill for about two hours with applewood smoker chips smoldering over the coals.
We were suprised that it finished that quickly, but the thermometer in the breast read 167 degrees so we pulled it. However, even though it looked fantastic we discovered that parts of the thigh were not done and had to go back on the grill for a few minutes. We think the temperature probe maybe wasn’t properly placed. None of us had smoked a whole chicken before so it was a learning experience! Outside of the thigh under-doneness the bird was fantastic. Super moist and delicious (I’ve never had a chicken breast that moist EVER), but I have to say the rub was the big winner of the day. All three of us raved about it and can’t wait to use it on something else. Rub recipe is here.
We also made veggie kabobs for the grill with baby bella mushrooms, sweet onion, some funky greenish-yellow pepper (CSA box), cherry tomatoes (CSA box), and patty pan squash (CSA store). Everything was good, but that squash was the bomb diggity. Raw or grilled it was fantastic.
We also steamed my CSA green beans in a foil packet on the grill. Just a little butter, salt and pepper and they were heavenly. Real food doesn’t need to be messed with too much. Simple is good!
We enjoyed our meal with a glass of wine, some of my bread that I made yesterday and some good laughs. I’m so thankful for the abundance of food we have at our disposal, the ability to make food choices (local and imported) and the right to fight to keep our choices. God bless America!