Who doesn’t love barbecued chicken and summer is the season of impromptu get-togethers with new neighbors and catching up with longtime friends.  It’s the perfect casual meal to serve outside with a watermelon salad and a cool drink. Now that many are anxious to get out and enjoy their friends again after the months of quarantine, help guests feel right at home and safe by setting outdoor tables with a mix of your favorite collectibles. If you don’t have a porch – take the party to the back yard under a canopy of trees.

 

My front porch is the heart and soul of our home.

www.johncdoyle.com

barbecued chicken, Indulgent Southern Barbecued Chicken, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

When it comes to Southern hospitality, it’s not all about the fine china, sterling silver, and cut crystal.  Southern hospitality isn’t always fancy. It doesn’t need white monogrammed linens and lace, polished antique family silver or porcelain teacups, It doesn’t wear white gloves or remove its hat.  It just needs a place where people come together and feel at home.

My wide, wrap-around front porch is not just an address – it’s a place where those I love gather, a glass of sweet tea or good chardonnay in hand, to sit back, relax, and watch the sun go down. Through the years, the location has changed, but the love of those who gather remains steadfast. Being welcome on the porch is a treasured gift filled with soothing assurance that you are part of family and friends.

The porch is not just simply made of brick and mortar – it’s crafted from treasured time together, carving jack-o-lanterns, stringing Christmas lights, hunting Easter eggs, shared times of deep loss, renewal and silent moments of prayer and reflection. We always have plenty of soulful, Southern-style barbecued chicken on hand.

 

Artist John Carroll Doyle, Charlestonbarbecued chicken, Indulgent Southern Barbecued Chicken, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

I like porches made cozy with hanging baskets of trailing pink geraniums and colorful cascading impatiens; an ideal setting for enjoying simple beverages and catching up on the news of the day.

The porch is where we watch the sky darken just before a thunderstorm and listen to the nighttime cadence of bullfrogs in the pond and cicada in the depths of the nearby forest.

The porch is where my grandchildren eat watermelon and popsicles and crawl up on laps to rest after a long day at the beach. This is where we steam oysters on chilly autumn afternoons and spread newspapers across the table in anticipation of Frogmore Stew.

John Carroll Doyle – Charleston artist

barbecued chicken, Indulgent Southern Barbecued Chicken, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

Sometimes it’s fun to call up a few good friends and have a porch supper. Entertaining is one of the last and most wonderful rituals left in our technological, schedule-stressed lives.  It allows us to simply slow down and enjoy an evening of good friends and conversation.

 

barbecued chicken, Indulgent Southern Barbecued Chicken, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

Greet guests with a signature drink that can be prepared in advance.  This one is cool and refreshing and always gets the party started. Stir it together in a glass pitcher and add ice to the glasses as the guests arrive.  Pour over ice at the last minute.

Pineapple Mojito

Serves 1

8 fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup pineapple, chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

2 ounces white rum

1-ounce fresh lime juice

1-ounce pineapple juice

1/2 ounce coconut rum

Club soda

Garnish: lime slice, pineapple wedge

In a  glass pitcher, muddle mint leaves, pineapple, and sugar.  Add white rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, and coconut rum. Fill glass with ice. Top with club soda and stir.  Garnish with a. lime slice and a pineapple wedge, if desired.

 

Formal entertaining is out; instead, we want relaxed, versatile recipes that are full of flavor but don’t require precision cooking or fussy techniques.  We want to approach cooking with a sense of ease.  Cooking can be relaxed yet refined and sophisticated at the same time.

Use seasonal fruits and vegetables for decorations instead of expensive flowers.  Tomatoes and basil work well together in summer. Tomatoes make a striking contrast against white porcelain.

Among the things I love to serve in the summer with barbecued chicken is Watermelon and Feta salad.

barbecued chicken, Indulgent Southern Barbecued Chicken, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

Watermelon and Feta Salad

The sweet watermelon contrasts well with salty feta cheese and the refreshing flavor of the lime and mint dressing,

4 cups diced seedless watermelon

1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped fine

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped fine

1 tablespoon basil, chopped fine

4 tablespoons olive oil

optional – black olives and roasted chicken

 

Arrange melon cubes and strawberries on a serving dish. Crumble feta over the melon.  Mix together the lime juice, sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper.  Add chopped herbs and stir to blend.  Slowly drizzle olive oil while vigorously whisking the dressing to emulsify,  Drizzle dressing over the salad.  For variations try adding sliced radishes, pomegranate seeds, or Kalamata olives to the salad.

barbecued chicken, Indulgent Southern Barbecued Chicken, Author Pat Branning, Author Pat Branning

 

Oven Roasted Barbecue Chicken

        Serve these with a side of your favorite potato salad and baked beans.

Serves 10-12

3 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

1/2 cup apricot, peach preserves or orange marmalade

2 cloves garlic, minced

12 whole chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on

oil for brushing

Combine BBQ sauce, preserves, garlic, and hot sauce in a small saucepan and heat gently for 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle oil on 2 baking sheets and place the thighs skin side down in the pans.  Roast for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven briefly and brush sauce all over the thighs, then turn them over. Remove from oven and brush the tops with more sauce and return to the oven for 7 minutes.

Remove from the oven again, and brush on more sauce, and return to the oven for another 7 minutes.  Take thighs out of the oven, brush on more sauce, and turn the temperature up to 425 degrees.

Continue to roast for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce starts to brown nicely around the edges.  Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

 

For gatherings at home, I normally will fix a couple things myself and buy a few things.  With all the wonderful nearby bakeries, I save time by purchasing a pie and adding a little scoop of ice cream to each slice. No one cares and it’s a lot less wear and tear.