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Author Notes: It was Lin Yutang who said that patriotism is “the love of the food one ate as a child.” This is the dinner of my childhood. Most often it was chicken; most often in the summer. Fittingly, I associate it with the Fourth of July.
When I told my mother that I was going to submit it to Food52 I asked her for the background, which I did not know. Her email was warm and poignant and showed me a side of her I have rarely seen. She wrote, in brief: “Every year that I was in college I stayed in Columbia (Missouri) to go to summer school. One of the girls I shared an apartment with used this recipe for grilling. Her father used it for all of his grilling--steaks, burgers, chicken, etc. He put it on the meat, put the meat on the grill, then kept the meat moist by brushing on a combination of vinegar and water. She did all of the grilling. I made all of the salads. We had a little grill out on the balcony--and drank wine and beer and daiquiris as we watched the grill, and we thought we were soooo sophisticated. There was a swimming pool in the center of the apartment complex and all but one building looked out over the pool. Almost every day the guys would take up a collection and go get a keg that would be set up by the pool. We spent the afternoons at the pool, swimming, listening to music somebody played from a radio on their balcony, and drinking. Everyone knew everyone in the complex, and on the weekends our friends came in from Kansas City or St. Louis or where ever they lived and stayed with us. They brought sleeping bags and slept on the floor. Those were the good old, very innocent days. Then the Vietnam War reared it's ugly head, we got closer to graduating and having to face the real world, and nothing was ever the same!”
We don’t always think about who our mothers were before us. This recipe has always reminded me of my childhood. Now it will have the added layer of reminding me of a happy time in my mother’s past, gone but not forgotten.
Makes 1 portion
- 1 part freshly ground black pepper
- 1 part kosher salt
- 1 part garlic powder
- 1 part paprika
- meat or seafood for grilling
- melted unsalted butter
- The goal is to use equal parts of the dry ingredients to make a rub. You can use any portion you want, depending on how much meat you have or if you want to store some.
- The wet ingredients are also flexible. Use whatever type of vinegar you think would be best and mix something like 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 cup of water. I use white vinegar and those measurements.
- Rub the spice blend onto the meat or seafood of your choice – I think it is best with chicken – and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or while you prepare your grill.
- Prepare your grill according to your need or preference.
- Grill the meat or seafood. Periodacally brush the meat or seafood with the vinegar and water combination. I have no idea how often I do this, but it's not too often.
- About 5 minutes before you finish cooking brush the melted butter on the meat or seafood.