This is the hot and breathless time of year most everywhere. The sun rises early and inches up, taking its first look at the horizon, then glows warmly all day. In some places the heat settles in, working its way into every nook and cranny. ‘Tis not surprising August is called the heyday of summer.
Even when traveling in an RV, a picnic can be a treat. Perhaps you decided to lay over for a few days and want to do some sightseeing or go fishing. Or maybe your campsite is so beautiful you want to enjoy the pleasures of being out-of-doors. Perhaps the time has come to plan a picnic for no reason at all.
And what better fare for a picnic than chicken. I have done gourmet picnics with Cornish pasties, pickled asparagus, marinated artichokes, stuffed green olives, wedges of assorted cheeses, and chocolate covered strawberries. I have done a picnic en route—meaning a stop at the market for sourdough bread, boiled ham, Swiss cheese, fresh fruit and bakery cookies. And I have taken the cast-iron pot and cooked sausage with peppers and served it with big buns. But a favorite has always been chicken—and the most fun one was roasting a whole chicken, wrapping it in foil, and popping it into a basket.
GARLIC-HERB ROASTED CHICKEN
Whole chicken, 4–5 pounds
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons of fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons of parsley
1 teaspoon of fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
Mix together the cloves, thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, salt and pepper. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Gently loosen and lift skin from breast and drumsticks with finger—do not totally detach the skin. Rub herb mixture evenly underneath skin. Carefully replace skin. Place chicken, breast side up, on a lightly greased wire rack in a lightly greased shallow roasting pan.
Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven 30 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake 45 minutes. Cover loosely with foil to prevent excessive browning, if necessary.
Wrap in foil and pop into a basket and take off for the picnic site. Be sure to pack a knife for slicing.
12 chicken drumsticks
12 chicken thighs
3 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 cups of dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, crushed
1 cup of melted butter
In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs with water. In another shallow bowl, combine dry breadcrumbs (I like Panko), and paprika, salt, dried marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Divide the cup of melted butter between two 13×9-inch baking pans.
Dip the drumsticks and thighs in the egg mixture, then coat with the crumb mixture. Place in the prepared pans. Bake, uncovered, in preheated 375-degree oven for 1 hour, turning once. Cool for 30 minutes; refrigerate until chilled.
Serve the cold chicken with this dip:
CREAMY LEEK DIP
In a small mixing bowl, beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt, an envelope of leek soup mix and 1 cup of shredded colby cheese; fold in whipped cream. Put into covered container and pop into the picnic basket.
BURNISHED CHICKEN WINGS
4 pounds of chicken wings
1 cup of Hoisin sauce
1/3 cup of plum sauce
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of dry sherry
1/4 cup of rice vinegar
1/6 cup of orange juice
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
In a large bowl, combine Hoisin sauce, plum sauce, soy sauce, dry sherry, rice vinegar, orange juice, garlic and minced fresh ginger.
Add chicken wings, toss to evenly coat, cover with plastic and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
Lift wings out of marinade, wiping off excess, and place in a single layer on rack in roasting pan. Reserve marinade. Roast, uncovered, in preheated 350-degree oven 30 minutes per side, basting with marinade every 15 minutes. Run wings under broiler just to crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Put into a deep bowl, cover and pack into the picnic basket with lots of paper napkins.
Here’s a dish that is best done at the campsite:
CITRUS-MARINATED GAME HENS
6 Cornish game hens
1 1/2 cups of orange juice
1 cup of olive oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup of fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Whisk together orange juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, chopped oregano, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.
Split Cornish game hens in half by whacking through the center of the breastbone and spine with a heavy knife. Press to flatten, and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.
Arrange in a single layer in roast pan and pour on marinade. Cover and marinate at room temperature 4 hours or in refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the grill or light the briquettes in the barbecue. When fire is ready remove from marinade and grill, skin-side down first, about 20 minutes total. To avoid burning, turn hens frequently, until skin is lightly charred.
Picnics can be one of the supreme pleasures of outdoor life. It doesn’t take a festive occasion or a special event to plan a picnic. Nor does it have to be a big production. Picnics can be planned for no reason at all.
HINT OF THE MONTH: Be sure to pack plenty of paper towels, a jug of water, a wine opener, and a plastic bag for the trash.
Marian Platt is a food writer who lives in Sequim, Washington.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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