While our son was growing up, we worked crazy long hours. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. One other fact of our life is that we always ate dinner together. Even if it meant me riding my bike home from Gleason’s Boxing Gym like a mad woman to get to Gourmet Garage before it closed, then making dinner by 9:30; that’s what happened at our house most every night.
I don’t think any of us ever really thought about it too much; it’s just the way it was. We watched a movie together while we ate, checked to make sure homework was done. Regular stuff.
Dinner has always been our connection time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We were creating bonds; just enjoying each other’s company at the end of the day. Nothing unusual about it; until you consider all the people I know who don’t eat together. Apparently that’s the trend. And that’s sad and crazy.
Fast forward about 6 or 7 years...Curtis is all grown up and living in Philadelphia. Last weekend he invited me over for dinner..no occasion, just dinner. I get a text message: “Oysters?” Hell yeah! Who can turn down that sort of dinner invite?? “Beer can chicken?” came the next text. Well, I was a beer can chicken virgin and I thought it was time to see what all the fuss was about.
The oysters were superb: plump, full of brine, sweet. And washed down with a pink Cava, and chili pepper flecked mignonette, just about perfect.
But things got interesting when we pulled the beer can chicken off the grill. I didn’t know what to expect; how could a chicken be on the grill for so long and still be moist? Apparently that’s the miracle of the beer can, it literally steams and infuses the chicken with flavor. I know. I know. I’m late to the party. I’m not a beer drinker, so the whole idea seemed sort of....college frat boy.
It’s not. It’s a jumping off point for me to start exploring steaming foods. Recently I scoffed at someone on Mouthfuls asking about steaming a chicken. “Why would you want to?”, I asked. I’m imagining pale white, flavorless meat.
Then I listened to Paula Wolfert extol the virtues of Moroccan style steamed foods. And finally, faced with a blackened beer can that had been extracted from the chicken, the light bulb went off.
I want to line up 4 or 5 chickens and do a taste test experiment. Would Guinness make more of a statement than Coors Lite? What about earl grey tea and ginger? What about wine and herbs? Is there a way to get a crispy skin on a beer can chicken?
So, do me a favor. Save up your empty beer cans, send me some, you keep some, and let’s have some fun experimenting!
PS It’s a good feeling to know that we’ve passed on the dinner gene to the spawn of our loins. Dinners are good.