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Memorial Day weekend is a busy time here in Indy. Growing up in Speedway, I was right in the thick of the activity. We rented our upstairs out to race crews and sold cold lemonade to thirsty returning race fans on the corner of 16th Street. Every year we listened to the race on the radio while working in the yard and garden.

Food was always a big part of the tradition. Dad would get out the grill and fire it up. Easy snacks kept the kids content until the meal was ready; and there was something so satisfying about eating outdoors. These recipes for backyard barbecues have my heart “racing” with excitement!

Quick-Smoked Chicken

from Eating Well

7.5 hickoryworks barkIngredients:

  • 4 to 4 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks and/or breasts), skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  1. Place 2 large handfuls of hickory woodchips in a large bowl, cover with water and let soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat a gas grill to medium or build a two-zone fire (coals on one side of the grill) in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400°F).
  3. If using a gas grill, turn off one or two burners (depending on your grill) so one part is no longer lit. Add one handful of soaked woodchips directly onto the charcoal or into a stainless-steel smoker box. (To improvise a smoker box, see Tips.)
  4. When the wood begins to smoke, oil the grill rack (see Tips) and place the chicken on the rack above the unlit portion of the grill. Close the lid and cook, adding the second handful of soaked woodchips after 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F, 32 to 36 minutes.

Tips & Notes

If using a gas grill without a smoker box, you can improvise one: Fold a 12-by-20-inch piece of heavy-duty foil in half to create a 12-by-10-inch double-thick piece. Place all of the soaked woodchips in the center, fold the short ends over the woodchips and seal the open ends. Make several holes in the top of the packet. Place the packet, pierced side up, under the grill rack on the burners.

Once the grill is heated, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the hot rack right before placing the chicken on the grill.

Hickoryworks has the hickory bark for smoking as well as some great barbecue sauce. Royer Farm Fresh Meats tells me they will have a new batch of chicken fresh from the fields this Saturday. Also check Phelps Family Farm and Schacht Farm for more meat selections and Apple Works has farm-raised elk. Cornerstone has hamburger and hot dog buns or try pretzel buns from Brotgarten.

I’ve gone back to the recipe archives to revisit some of the best backyard barbecue recipes from the past few years. The links are provided below so you can easily access multiple recipes with just a few clicks. And the last link is for a great lineup of 33 (hey, just like the race!) recipes for healthy Memorial Day eating from Eating Well. These recipes are not only for meats, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables, dips, salads, side dishes, and desserts included too!

Great Grilling

Easiest Cookout Ever

Perfect Picnic

An Outdoor Menu for the Holiday

You Must Dip It

Healthy Memorial Day Recipes from Eating Well