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Barbecue Chicken Dinner Party

We had my folks over for a little dinner party last night. It was a such a sweltering day that I was afraid the chicken might cook itself in the car on the way home from Whole Foods. Thankfully it didn't, and once I walked through the door into the cool AC, Alex slathered the bird in some sea salt and let it dry brine for 45 minutes. After he rinsed off the salt, he rubbed the chicken in a little olive oil and fired up the Traeger on the back patio.

While the chicken was on the barbecue, I threw together a little snack: thin filo dough squares baked in a mini muffin pan and topped with pungent Point Reyes bleu cheese, little strips of applewood-smoked bacon and a drizzle of wildflower honey. They were a big hit—lightly sweet, salty and smoky with a crunchy shell that crumbled into flaky bits as you stuffed them in your mouth. And they paired exceptionally well with an icy cold Voyager gin martini prepared just the way I like it: with a good glug of vermouth and a lemon twist.

This was the first time Alex cooked a whole chicken on the Traeger and it turned out awesome—crisp browned skin sealing in moist, tender meat. He cooked it for about an hour on high. Traeger actually has a pretty good instructional video on their website.

To top the chicken, I whizzed up a little tarragon sauce with three huge branches of tarragon, a healthy spritz of lemon, a few anchovy fillets and a good glug of grassy olive oil. It was perfect with the crisp bird and oozed onto the lovely new potatoes that Alex had dug up from the garden earlier that morning.

In my opinion, potatoes fresh from the garden are like a completely different species. They have an unparalleled creaminess with none of the mealy texture that some store-bought spuds can have. They're one of my favorite luxuries.

And speaking of creamy luxuries, let's not forget the morels—a blend of small brown mushrooms from the Boise Farmers Market and big pale white-ish ones that Alex's friend foraged for us. With a little boozy bite from some sherry and a splash of rich cream, they were wonderfully decadent.

We finished off the evening with lots of laughter, a little dark chocolate and a splash of the aforementioned sherry, a concoction that Alex created featuring a blend of fortified, wood-aged riesling and cider that we jokingly call "Tammi," aka sherry's less-classy cousin. Good times.

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