Friday, May 22, 2009

Chicken Fat as an Energy Source: Or, Dave's Memorable Memorial Day

Dave wasn't one of those hard-core outdoor grillers who flip burgers in anything short of blizzard conditions. He waited until Memorial Day weekend to set up his grill: the user-friendly sort, with an LP gas tank instead of charcoal.

That year, Dave decided to start the summer with something different: grilled chicken.

He put it on aluminum foil, like the cooking instructions said: with a sort of curb at the edge, to prevent spills.

The first time Dave opened the grill's hood, to see how the chicken was coming, he noticed a pool of liquid fat forming on the foil. Also, that the chicken pieces weren't anywhere near being ready to turn.

Several minutes later, he checked again. This time, the pieces were browning, near the foil. Dave decided it was time to turn them.

Using one of those long-handled tongs they have for grilling, Dave lifted one piece – a drumstick, he tells me. The foil, now lightly baked onto the chicken skin, came with it.

That made the center of the foil higher than the curb, so liquid chicken fat poured off the foil and onto the hot grill.

The muted hiss of the grill turned to a subdued roar, as flames leaped out and up. Dave was lightly singed, but okay.

He got the LP gas shut off, but the fire kept going. Chicken fat makes a pretty good fuel, Dave tells me. By the time the fire was out, the chicken was over-done: even by Dave's standards.

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