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We find our way to Juan's Park Slope bungalow, which doubles as Small Black's recording studio and apparently, a grilling Shangri-La. Although the sky remains foreboding, the rain stopped.
Juan flops the meat on the counter, carefully unwrapping it with a whisper, "This is a beautiful chicken." He invites me to sniff it—I have close to zero sense of smell so I'm unsurprised when I can't whiff a thing. But apparently that's a good thing.
"Look at these chickens," Juan keeps prodding. "This is fucking beautiful. These smell so good. They smell like nothing. …With good chicken, you don’t want to smell anything. …They’ve never been frozen—they’re tender. As soon as you start freezing meat, it gets more and more tough. ...You just wanna get it as fresh as possible—especially for chicken."
He sprinkled some of his homemade rub into my palm. It was incredibly smoky—like campfire lapping at my tastebuds—with hints of sweetness and a shy, spicy kick. Juan's recipe includes smoked paprika, cayenne, dried thyme, salt, pepper, cumin, dried oregano, brown sugar ("That's my personal twist, 'cuz I like the way the brown sugar caramelizes with everything, with the skin caramelization going on.") and garlic powder ("Gotta have garlic powder").