What is different this time is the way in which we built the fire for cooking. We had our friend make a very large metal iron bowl, aka “firepit,” with a large iron grate to fit over top. This thing is very heavy, so once we found the perfect spot for it, we knew it would never be moved. We can sit around the fire while the food cooks and do small quick grilled snacks while the meat simmers as we continuously baste it in the juice of lemons, olive oil, garlic and rosemary. We brush this on with a homemade baster created from rosemary and lavender branches straight out of the herb garden.
The recipe for the corn salsa can be found in a wonderful book every home canner-gardener should have on their shelves. It is called Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round by Marisa McClellan. In it you will find her version of a famous corn salsa found at Trader Joe’s markets. I could eat it for breakfast, but knowing how much effort goes into each pint I use it sparingly. The pages of this book offer lots of easy small batch canning recipes anyone can make, in any kitchen.
The chicken and rabbit marinate overnight in the juicy basting brine with sea salt, black and red pepper and lots of fresh garlic. Do not fear garlic! I use our own German hard neck variety, about two bulbs, all chopped up, and then I place the meat in large plastic bags with the “juice.” Every few hours I take out the bags and massage it and move around the juices. Cutting the chicken and rabbit in half with the back bone intact is best way for this type of grilling. If you have a really hungry crowd you could throw some sausages in the mix as they will cook fast and can be eaten while dinner cooks. The meat will take about two hours with little direct flame. The vegetables can go on in the last 15-30 minutes. Serve the whole mess on large platters and wooden cutting boards family style. Let everyone grab and pull off what they want. You can make a little extra “juice” for dipping or have a selection of sauces. Communing over a fire with food “slow cooking” is one of the best ways I know to spend a late summer/ early fall day. Dogs and people alike can hang out in relaxed fashion playing games, reading, chatting and laughing. It is an easy way to entertain with paper plates and napkins with no need for forks; just your fingers and teeth! I always have a water bath or hand wipes available when a sink is not possible. We keep coolers handy with trash and recycling containers. In this way no one needs to venture indoors with muddy feet unless they need the facilities.
Avocado and Corn Salsa Ready for the Grill.
Grilled Avocado Stuffed with Corn Salsa
With little clean up, everyone can relax by the fire as the sky turns to stars, and hopefully someone will have a harmonica, guitar or a few good jokes. The dogs will, of course, be focused on all the leftover bones and treats they were drooling over all day.
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