When I walked into the Iacono Farm store, the phone was ringing off the hook. It was a day in advance of a big holiday weekend and apparently everyone on the East End of Long Island was bound and determined to serve Iacono Chicken (106 Long Lane, Easthampton NY Tel: 631 324 1107). That was my goal too and the reason that I had arrived moments after the place opened at one o’clock in the afternoon. I was glad I did because as I stood there waiting for Anthony Iacono to cut up my birds, it wasn’t very long before his mother, Mrs. Iacono, started telling prospective customers that they’d have to wait till Sunday or Monday for a chicken. And what is so special about an Iacono chicken?
The words ‘free range’ are bandied about by chicken producers everywhere. However, the awful truth is you can get away with calling chicken ‘free range’ if there’s a door left open on the chicken coop. Make that ‘chicken factories’ where hundreds and hundreds of birds scratch the floors for food. Not so at Iacono’s. Once the chicks arrive from hatcheries in Pennsylvania, they are installed in a heated pen till they are old enough to run free range. Their diet is completely free of chemicals, antibiotics and the hormones that produce the far bigger birds of the chicken factories. Instead, they feed on corn and soybeans and freely run around outside where they also have access to grass. Because in addition to chickens, Iacono Farm sells eggs with beautiful Tropicana orange yolks, the hallmark of a true free-range chicken. They are simply magnificent.
|Much loved for 21 years and counting|
My quest for the perfect chickens, which I bought four of due to their relatively small size, was so that I could recreate a recipe that I first made 21 years ago. Here’s a photo of the recipe page from my cookbook. Over the years, I’ve hauled it out for many a summer meal. The thing that makes this dish unique is two-fold. The chicken parts sit in a cooking sauce overnight and then are baked in the same sauce, low and slow. They are really cooked when they come out of their long haul in the oven. But without a few minutes on the grill, I’m not sure they would qualify as barbecued chicken. And even with the very unique barbecue sauce that is served with them.
So my Iacono chickens were worshipped and adored for their double whammy of flavor—the sauce they’ve cooked in and the one they’re served with. This recipe is really not a lot of work. The barbecue sauces come together in no time. The first one is a matter of putting everything into a saucepan and bringing it to a boil. The second one amounts to putting everything into a Cuisinart and then heating the resulting sauce. You can also space the cooking over two days. You make one sauce, marinate the chicken in it one day, then make the second sauce to serve on the side the next day.
The recipe for the first sauce was sourced from an article called “Ode to Skeets” published in the New York Times in July of 1990. Much to my astonishment, I found it in the Times archive. There it contained instructions for both the oven baked method which I use and the option to use the sauce to baste the chicken while cooking it directly on the grill. There was also the warning that grill cooking times varied widely according to the heat of the grill. It’s precisely for that reason that I go the baked-in-the-oven direction. I have strong memories of a dear friend (and I am not naming names) who used to grill chicken to what would be called ‘medium rare’ if one were being kind. Said chicken would then have to put back on the grill for another hour. This led most of his guests to be in no condition to eat their chicken by the time it was finally served.
As to the Santa Barbara Barbecue sauce, it is a recipe from Gourmet, August 1990. Unfortunately, its story is lost in time and not even available on epicurious.com. What makes it unique is that it uses a Granny Smith apple and a gherkin to create a flavor that is tangy and zesty without the sugar or smoke of many a southern barbecue sauce I’ve tried. You will have quite a lot of it and by all means, refrigerate it and serve it again as a condiment with your next steak on the grill, or your next pork chop.
We served this dish with our recipe for Watermelon and Tomato Salad with mint (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/07/watermelon-and-tomato-salad.html) and Mexican Cole Slaw (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2011/05/enchiladas-suizas-with-mexican-cole.html). For dessert we had exceptional Strawberry Shortcakes. Two young friends of ours shared our dinner. This is great kid food too. Here is the recipe:
For The sauce:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard, preferably Dijon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For The Chicken*
* Iacono’s birds were smaller so I went with 4.
1. Combine the ingredients for the barbecue sauce in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring.
2. Place the chickens in a large baking dish and pour the sauce over it. Cover and marinate the chicken for 4 hours or overnight.
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 250 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and finish the chicken over a charcoal grill at medium temperature.
While the chicken is baking make the Santa Barbara Barbecue Sauce:
2 white onions, quartered.
2 ¼ cups distilled White Vinegar
1 ½ cups bottled chili sauce
¾ cup peeled and cored and quartered Granny Smith Apple (1 apple)
3 tbsp. dark molasses
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large clove garlic
1 bottled sweet gherkin and 3 tbsp. of gherkin juice
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Tobasco sauce
¾ tsp. Turmeric
1. Process everything in the food processor fitted with the metal blade.
2. In a large saucepan, simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally for 40-45 minutes or until you have 4-5 cups. Set aside. Pass the sauce with the chicken.