By John Kass
July 4, 2022
What will Americans talk about on Independence Day?
I don’t suppose they’ll talk about catching wild pigs.
Instead, they’ll probably talk about the weather, what they’re drinking and eating, and sports, and their children and family news.
Some might comment on the idiot at the charcoal grill who carved up the hot dogs, proving he doesn’t know a darn thing about grilling on the 4th of July.
Some might talk about Joe Biden’s inflation and Joe Biden’s sky-high gas prices and the windy, obscene lies that he and his Democrats keep telling, trying to trying to force us to stop using gasoline to power our cars and buy fancy Tesla electric cars instead.
Hmm. Can you afford a Tesla?
No? Me neither.
Out there in the backyard, some may talk about the rise of violent crime in the cities, and the number of police officers shot, often ambushed. And about prosecutors who don’t prosecute and woke media that protects them. And the chaos and anarchy that brings. Just look at Chicago.
What folks at my Independence Day cookout probably won’t want to talk about is the one thing that I want to talk about:
Catching wild pigs for Independence Day.
I’m told it isn’t easy, and that it takes time. But you can catch them. Many of you who’ve been loyal readers for years know that I’ve long been interested in the habits of the crafty wild hogs. I’m the son of a butcher. And I’m an absolute fiend for my charcoal grill and charcoal smoker, carbon footprint be damned.
The European Continent was once covered with tasty wild pigs. Now they’re all but extinct over there. In America, there are still some of the wild ones. They’re ornery, independent and mean. They won’t be bossed. You can’t teach them tricks for treats.
If you walk up to them and try to teach them to “shake a paw,” they’ll run away. Or they’ll probably kill you. Why? Because they’re wild. They hate it when strangers think they can approach them with treats to encourage behavior.
But if I bring up my dream conversation topic of catching wild pigs on Independence Day, guests will just roll their eyes. You can’t grill eye-rolls and attitude on your backyard grill. And you can’t drink it.
While I was working on this column, a neighbor, a friend stopped by to say hello to Zeus the Wonder Dog. We talked at the fence. He’s s grilling American hot dogs for his family on Independence Day. I told him I’d have a few tips on how to make the best hot-dog in the universe later on in this space.
Our sons and their girlfriends want ribs. And my sister-in-law Regina just told me she hopes I’ll cook spicy Italian sausage from Joseph’s Finest Meats, on the Northwest Side of Chicago.
Regina? What’s so “4th of July “about Italian sausage?
“I really can’t say,” said Regina. “The ones you made for Easter were delicious.”
“Christopher Columbus who discovered America was Italian,” said Regina. “And Amerigo Vespucci was Italian, and isn’t America named after him? You’re having a cookout out on the 4th of July.”
So Betty, my Lovely Sicilian bride, went out over to Joseph’s Finest Meats for some sausage for her sister. Sadly, the three Columbus statues of Chicago are now locked away in Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s political prison, in her Jail of Politically Problematic Statues. One of the imprisoned Columbus statues bears an image of the great explorer Amerigo Vespucci, so Vespucci is in her jail, too.
Poor Christopher. Poor Amerigo.
The statues have been locked away from public view, as Lightfoot caters to neo-Marxists on matters of public art. The mayor proves the Orwellian theory: “Who controls the past controls the future: Who controls the present controls the past.”
But if you promise me you won’t cook one of these killer hot dogs for Mayor Phallus Maximus, I’ll show you how to make a memorable Independence Day hot dog.
Behold the Independence Day Dog, The Chicago Way
Before lighting the coals, take the hot dogs out of the package. My favorites are Chicago based–Vienna Beef and Crawford Sausage Co.’s Daisy-Brand Dogs (skin on).
With a sharp knife lightly score your hot dogs diagonally. Then score them the other way, diagonally. See the photo above. Then flip them and do the same on the other side. Don’t cut them too deeply, just a light scoring through the skin will do.
Then take a stick of softened butter, press four or five cloves of garlic; a hooftah (a palm full) of finely chopped fresh rosemary, add salt and pepper. Cream the butter mixture with a fork.
Roll the hot dogs lightly into the butter. Grill them indirectly, just on the edge of the heat, not directly over the heat source, with the grill closed. Turn them occasionally. You’ll see the miracle of the butter and fats begin to caramelize. That’s flavor.
You can keep basting by picking them up with tongs, touching them lightly into the compound butter and put them back on the grill. A few minutes will do. Don’t burn them.
The butter may also be used on the buns, Just spread lightly and toast, indirectly. Put them in the buns. Sprinkle celery salt, smear mustard, add sport peppers and relish.
Yes, you’re welcome. The best dogs you’ve ever eaten.
Betty’s Italian Chicken Under Bricks, in memory of poor Columbus and Vespucci Locked Away in in the Statue Prison of Mayor Phallus Maximus
Have your butcher spatchcock a chicken, the spine removed so it will lay flat on the grill. Before seasoning, pound or press down on the breast so the breast bone cracks and it lays flat.
Marinade: half cup of olive oil, zest of whole lemon, juice of one lemon, pressed garlic (lots), chopped rosemary (two hooftahs), salt, fresh cracked pepper. Place chicken in one-gallon Ziplock bag in a pan in the refrigerator. Turn it after six or eight hours. Rub the bag with your thumbs to evenly distribute the marinade. Keep in fridge overnight.
To Grill: One layer of hot ashed-over charcoals, either briquettes or lump charcoal. Toss in one large chunk of apple wood, or cherry. Lay the chicken on the grill, flesh side down, not the back side, but the flesh side, or the skin will stick to the grill and you’ll lose it. Place two bricks covered with aluminum foil on the chicken. Cover the grill and leave for 15 minutes. Then remove the bricks. with a spatula and tongs, flip the chicken so the back (skin) side on the grill grate. Replace bricks and let the chicken grill for another 15 minutes. When the breast reaches 165 degrees and the thighs 170 or until the juices run clear.
Oh, I almost forgot, before the coals are spent, slice two or three lemons in half. Grill them over direct heat with pulp-side down for five minutes and they’ll caramelize too. When the chicken is done, cut into quarters. Squeeze the grilled lemons over the meat, add sea salt. Loosely tent with aluminum foil.
Now about catching those wild pigs.
If I ever do catch me a sounder (herd) of wild pigs, I won’t teach them tricks. And I won’t stand there having a conversation with them. Any man who talks to pigs is a dangerous nincompoop. But I do know who to call for the sausage. Ben and Sal and the other guys at Joseph’s Finest Meats, 7101 W. Addison St., Chicago make the most delicious Italian and Greek sausage, plus superb breakfast sausage. I grew up in a butcher shop. When I was a boy, I watched my dad make great sausage and he taught me. Theirs is the best sausage in the city.
But how do to you catch wild pigs?
I read about this years ago, and wrote about it, but I never could determine the author of the original. If you know, write me here john@johnkassnews. On Independence Day, I will raise a glass to the as yet unknown author.
Wild pigs are crafty and mean. But they do love free food. And if you go out to the woods where they live, you just throw a few buckets of corn on the ground. Any wild pigs around there will run away, because they hate the smell of men. But eventually, they’ll come for the corn because like all creatures, man and pig love free food.
You keep throwing it out for them on a regular basis. Then, you build one length of stout fence and keep throwing that corn. They won’t like the fence, but they’ll come back. And you throw more corn out there until they’ll come running. And that’s when you build the next length of fence, attached at a hard right angle with posts, to the first.
Yes they’ll run. But you keep pushing the free corn on them and build that third length of stout fence attached to the other two. Keep giving out the corn. They’ll tell their friends. And finally, you put up that fourth length of fence, with a strong gate the the middle of it. Keep the gate wide open and throw more corn.
They’ll eventually come for it because they don’t have to root it out of the ground. It’s just sitting there. It’s free.
And all you have to do is close the gate. You’ve caught your wild pigs. Young ones. Old ones. They’re yours to do what you wish. Just don’t hug them.
On July 4, 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and through the bloody battles with the bloody British Empire and the madness of King George, the Americans didn’t want free corn or free stuff. What they wanted was liberty.
Yes, there were slave holders among the first Americans. It was America’s great sin. But slavery wasn’t the creation of the Americans, many other cultures of all skin pigments had slaves. And it doesn’t define us now, even though race hustlers make a handsome living force-feeding guilt to tear the nation apart. What’s often ignored by woke media that parrots the race hustlers is the greatness of America. And that, in our founding documents, in the Declaration of Independence, and all their talk of of rights and individual liberty, they made one thing inevitable: the end of slavery.
And in less than a hundred years, Americans fought a bloody Civil War to end it. Americans have fought other bloody wars since in the name of liberty for all.
You’re concerned about the impact of Critical Race Theory hustlers on your kids attending government schools? OK, why not talk to them about the evils of slavery, the corrosiveness of it? The summer isn’t over yet. Before the next school year begins, you could take them on a trip to Gettysburg, or other Civil War battlefields, Think of think of the thousands of Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg in one day, most of them kids themselves.
You might stand near with your children, and together, listen for the weight of their ghosts on the breeze at Little Round Top. Think of the wounded left on the battlefields, dying, calling out in agony as feral dogs and hogs came for them in the night.
Human beings are not hogs. But like those wild hogs in the story, history tells us that mankind has often been trapped by those seeking power, those who promised them free stuff, free food. They make it easy to give up liberty, for food, for comfort, for security, for a respite from chaos and anarchy, even for glitzy, spectacular entertainments.
And many who gorge will call you a fool for shying away from all that free stuff in the name of liberty.
History tells us that liberty could be taken away in a flash, by a vastly superior military force. But history also tells us that most often, people give up their liberty far too easily, through bribes of corn, through fear, through domestic political encouragements and domestic political threats, and always when a nation forgets its core and abandons foundational virtues.
And once you give liberty up, once that last length of fence is established, and they close the gate, it’s gone.
Happy Independence Day, America.
(Copyright 2o22 John Kass)
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