We buy some barbecued chicken every year on Labor Day weekend at the Blue Hill Fair (notable as the setting for E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”), and take it home to eat on the deck with potato salad, thick-sliced tomatoes just off the vine, and maybe this Blueberry Cobbler.

MAINE COUNTY FAIR BARBECUED CHICKEN

By summer’s end, thousands of chickens will have been slowly grilled to juicy, deep golden perfection on barbecues at the dozen or so county fairs around the state, wafting their tantalizing aromas out into the milling crowd. Mainers favor this extremely simple, mild basting sauce that “brings out the fine flavor of the chicken,” says Down East food authority Marjorie Standish.

To replicate the fair chicken, use a hinged basket that helps flatten the chicken pieces and cook them evenly. And you’ll note I recommend briefly pre-baking the chicken, which ensures that it’s cooked through before it begins to burn on the grill.

Servings: Six

1 cup cider vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon paprika

About 6 pounds chicken parts of your choice

In a large baking dish, stir together the vinegar, water, oil, salt, sugar, pepper and paprika. Add the chicken, turning to coat. Marinate at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or for up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake chicken in its marinade for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium heat. Place the chicken on the grill skin-side up and cook, turning every 5 or 10 minutes, brushing with marinade, until the skin is dark brown and charred in spots and the meat is no longer pink, about 20 minutes. Most of the cooking should be done with the skin side up so that it doesn’t get too charred. Serve hot, warm or cold.

BLUEBERRY COBBLER

If you’re in the mood for a seasonal fruit dessert but don’t have time to bake a pie, a cobbler is just the ticket — easily and quickly put together, yet sending forth the kind of heavenly smells from the oven that cannot be manufactured any other way.

Servings: Six

FRUIT MIXTURE:

4 cups blueberries

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

COBBLER DOUGH:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling on top

4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut in about 10 pieces

1/4 cup milk, any type

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish or other shallow 1- to 1½-quart baking dish. Toss berries in the dish with the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.

For the dough, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to sift. Distribute butter over flour mixture and pulse until mixture is about the size of small peas. With motor running, pour the milk through the feed tube, stopping processor as soon the dough begins to come together. (To make the dough by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, work the butter in with your fingertips and stir in the milk with a large fork.)

Scrape out onto a lightly floured board, knead a couple of times, and roll or pat dough into a dish approximately 8 inches in diameter. (If using another shape dish, simply flatten the dough into a shape that is slightly smaller than the interior dimensions of the baking dish.) Trim edges and crimp with your fingertips or a fork. Set dough over fruit and cut several deep slashes to let steam escape. Sprinkle with remaining teaspoon of sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

 

Brooke Dojny is a freelance writer who lives on the Blue Hill peninsula.