Paula: The most common question I get at food events and book signings? (Aside from, “Is that your car in the No Parking zone?” And, “How can you possibly remain so youthful?”) Time and again I hear, “What’s your favorite meat to grill?” The answer is always chicken thighs, but I’m here to tell you why they’re also perfect for backyard parties as well.

Scott: I would like to take a brief pause for science, if you please. Anatomically, the chicken thigh is harvested from the top portion of the leg just above the knee joint. Just below said knee joint, you will find the delicious (and fun!) drumstick. Okay, carry on.

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Paula: If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s this simple, undeniable truth: Nachos make people happy. Really happy! That’s why this year, I’m forgoing the more predictable Father’s Day gifts of fishing lures, duck call novelties, expensive Pinot or whimsical socks and giving my dad the greatest gift of all: Nachos.

Scott: That made me cry a little. You are the daughter the world needs now.

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Paula: When the guy behind the seafood counter tried to steer me away from halibut, explaining that he would avoid that variety for the grill, I smiled politely and purchased two big fillets. Folks are intimidated to grill varieties of white fish like sea bass, cod, or halibut, because they’re delicate and leaner than oiler fish such as tuna, swordfish, and mahi mahi. (The fear being that the former will dry out and/or fall apart when flipped). But there’s an easy remedy preparing white fish over a bed of charcoal: sizzle the fish in a preheated cast iron skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and a few aromatics, and don’t bother flipping it.

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Paula: One of the silver linings of an enforced quarantine is cooking, of course. For the last few weeks (months? How long has it been?), there’s no need for recipes that promise dinner in a flash. Full days at home offer the pleasure of, say, tending a fire for a long smoke or a stovetop simmer. After cooking through a world tour of dried beans (black, pinto, lentils, cannellini!) I pulled out a bag of Rancho Gordo Hominy.

If you’ve only ever used canned hominy, friend, you are missing out. The canned variety has a gummy, slightly rubbery texture. Dried hominy that you cook flowers, like popcorn, when it’s fully cooked and gives the posole a rich corn flavor. Once the hominy is cooked, this recipe comes together with basic pantry ingredients, a cooked chicken (you can even use a store-bought rotisserie) and any mix of garnishes you please.

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Fire & Smoke Society products are now available at Walmart stores and better independent hardware and outdoor stores.

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