On the rare occasions when I can’t sleep, it’s unlikely that I’ll be counting sheep.

Instead, lamb may be in play… in the form of tender, grilled loin chops, or a butterflied leg, marinated in garlic and rosemary, cooked medium rare and served with roasted potatoes. Insomnia doesn’t stand a chance against the memory of ruby-red tomatoes from the garden, and mountains of leafy, green basil and fresh pasta from the farmers market. As I drift back to sleep, my mom is right here with me, when I recall her sour cream coffee cake, fresh from the oven, the cinnamon streusel swirl just cool enough to enjoy without burning my tongue.

Food is the stuff of memories for so many of us. The tastes and the smells transport us, while the preparation and the sharing sustain us. For me, food is a creative outlet and a great adventure. I love to try something unexpected, or take a tried and true ingredient and prepare it in a new way.

Now that summer is pretty much here, we’re all firing up our grills. In the spirit of taking something old and making it new, maybe it’s time to mix it up with barbecue chicken. Consider swapping breasts and thighs for legs, and instead of a sweet, syrupy store-bought barbecue sauce, marinating the drumsticks in a delightful blend of coconut and pineapple.

As the song goes, “If you like Pina Coladas…,” you’re going to love this simple, flavorful grilled chicken recipe.

Pina Colada Chicken.  Courtesy of Trish Morrissey

Pina Colada Chicken

The recipe is inspired by Grilled Pineapple Drumsticks from Bon Appetit magazine, July 2021. Served hot or cold, these drumsticks feed a crowd. You can control the heat by reducing the amount of crushed red pepper flakes, if “too-much-spicy” is a concern.

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In a large bowl, place:

4 pounds skin-on chicken drumsticks

In a blender or Magic Bullet, add:

2 shallots, quartered
6 garlic cloves
1 (5-ounce) can coconut cream
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Blend until creamy. Pour about half of the marinade over the drumsticks, tossing with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Refrigerate the remainder. Cover and refrigerate the drumsticks for 2-3 hours.

Ready your grill, then grill the drumsticks over low heat for about 20 minutes. Turn the drumsticks, basting each one with the reserved marinade, and grill for another 15-20 minutes. The drumsticks should be cooked to 165 degrees for safe consumption.

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To finish and serve:

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple slices
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges

When there are 10 minutes remaining until the chicken is done cooking, lay the pineapple slices on the grill. Turn each slice after 5 minutes and cook on the second side. They should have lovely grill marks and look a bit blistered – that means they are caramelizing and will be delicious.

To serve, place the chicken legs on a platter and surround them with the grilled pineapple rings. Sprinkle them with the cilantro and serve with a handful of lime wedges for squeezing over the chicken. Serve the chicken hot or cold. Tiny paper umbrellas are optional!

Courtesy of Trish Morrissey

MEET THE COOK, Trish Morrissey, Bridgton

“I am a fearless experimenter in the kitchen, which can result in as many disasters as it does delights. It’s all part of the adventure, as far as I am concerned. I love to learn new techniques, try new ingredients and share the outcome with family, friends and neighbors.

“My favorite tools are my cast iron pans and griddle, most of which I inherited from my husband’s grandfather. They are so versatile, which adds to the fun – I challenge you to name one other vessel with which you can fry, bake and grill, cook over an open fire and protect yourself from an intruder.

“I work full time (remote) as a business analyst for a large resort company, and cooking provides me with a creative outlet. I am always searching for inspiration for the next thing to make.”

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