According to the calendar it is officially winter and up here in the hills we’re finally getting drops of stuff falling out of the sky, something which we have not seen in far too long of a time. Creeks, some of which have not flowed in a couple of years, once again have water which is very pleasing both to the eye and to the ear. Actually we’re doing pretty well now on rain but the epic drought is not over and it might not be ready have that proverbial fork stuck in it, even with twice the normal amount of rainfall. However, the crucial snowpack, on which CA depends, is above normal for this time of year, so things look pretty good as of the middle of Jan, 2016.
The area has greened up incredibly and the open spaces under scattered oaks now look like a golf course, if you don’t mind putting around the happy cattle. This spring will likely be an epic wildflower season, though there will remain the broad swaths of dead Ponderosa pines and cedars literally everywhere around here. The hillsides, swathed with large areas of golden brown (dead) trees, somewhat resembles New England in fall, particularly during the reddish light of sunset. From our perspective, it looks as though at least 90% of those big majestic Ponderosa pines succumbed to the double whammy of drought and bark beetle. Their skeletons will stand for several years as a reminder of the summer of 2015. Sadly, most of this wood will not be harvested because the sawmills are already packed to the rafters with dead trees. However, those of us with wood-burning stoves have an almost endless source of pine for heat in coming years. Most of the dead trees will eventually end up as rotting logs on the forest floor, which is the natural course of things anyway. However, while standing they present a severe fire danger in the summer and will continue to be a threat for the next decade, perhaps.
We haven’t done much outdoor cooking recently. Being winter, the days are also shorter and it’s often dark when we return home after a busy day at the sluice boxes here at the Miners Mix World Domination Headquarters. I don’t mind starting the BBQ and grilling in the dark, nor in the rain or even snow, but starting the grill and cooking in the cold and in the dark, while it’s raining is just a plain ol’ chore, and thus is not an appealing task. I’ve done it recently, but that was only because we were all jonesing for a great grilled steak.
Instead, we’ve turned to an old cooking implement I think everyone had at some point years ago, the Farberware Open Hearth indoor grill complete with rotisserie. These things were made until the early 1990s and they can be picked up for a song at many thrift stores. A couple of years ago Miners Mix picked up two for demos at food shows and they’ve been sitting on the shelf in the warehouse. On a whim, I borrowed one and we’ve been putting it through the paces in the kitchen. The grill when used with the rotisserie is sort of the equivalent of a crock pot. It requires a couple of hours at least, but emits fantastic aromas while doing its thing so you have time to develop a real appetite!
Faberware Roasted Chicken
Growing up I used to cook whole chickens on the Faberware rotisserie and they’d be about ready when my mom got home from work. Depending on the size of the chicken and the internal temperature of the bird when you start, it can require as much as 2.5 hrs to achieve 165 degree perfection. I learned that a tent of aluminum foil draped over the grill seemed to reflect the heat back onto the bird to speed things up a bit and also resulted in wonderful crispy skin. Chickens done this way come out juicy and very flavorful. I have to admit that I’d forgotten just how good they taste when done this way.
This chicken was liberally dusted with Miners Mix Poultry Perfection, positioned on the spit and then wooden skewers were used to prevent the legs and wings from flopping around whist spinning at the mind boggling rate of 5 RPM. After everything was secure, the entire rotisserie was lowered close to the heating element and the entire bird tented with foil as shown.
For grins, we diced up a few mushrooms and placed them in the drip pan below the bird, then added about a quarter to half cup of cheap red wine. The shrooms seemed to enjoy their wine hot tub as they slowly basted in chicken juice and the small amount of grease that dripped from the bird as it roasted. After about two hours, both the shrooms and chicken were done to perfection!
Various seasonings can be placed into the cavity before cooking. Aromatic spices such as a few sprigs of rosemary and/or some diced onion or garlic works really well. If you don’t do the mushrooms down below, don’t throw away those drippings. They are absolutely wonderful in a stove top type stuffing. Just make it without additional margarine or butter and add the drippings instead.