Grocery list

  • standard tray of 6 fresh chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • one butternut squash


At least 24 hours ahead, buy drumsticks and put them in marinade consisting of mixture of pickle juice and olive brine from many jars of pickles and olives past, combined over time as pickles and olives went, and juice and brine stayed behind.


Get a roaring fire in a starter chimney filled halfway with lump charcoal and mesquite chips. It will smoke like crazy. Dump the burning mess into the Akorn, put the grill on, close the lid and open all the way both vents to get the temperature up to 500°. This will thin out the smoke. You want the CO and NO that build up at high temperature, but not all of the particulate matter from the thick smoke you saw in the chimney. Put the bun warmer rack on. This is where the drumsticks go, way high up and away from the core of the heat. On the sides of the grill rack, spaced out so juices from the drumsticks don’t drip on them, go two halves of a butternut squash, with cleaned-out seed cavities and kosher salt, pepper and brown sugar sprinkled all over.

Grill for about 20 minutes, then turn the drumsticks. Continue for about 10 minutes, then take everything off the grill and close the vents to save charcoal. Rest the meat for at least 10 minutes.

The magic

The high heat will turn the skin a gleaming golden brown paper-thin goodness. This effect is achieved without any oiling, rubbing or sprinkling whatsoever. All the seasoning is from the brine, and all the fat is from the skin itself. Also, since this is a form of barbecuing, the meat under that skin will be a beautiful pink for reasons explained here.

Cooking after the grill is hot and the smoke is thin ensures that you get barbecue flavor, not essence of smokestack.