Friendship in Appalachia: Sweet Tea Rosemary Grilled Chicken inspired by Kathryn Magendie’s SWEETIE

in Potpourri by

Shy and scientific-minded Melissa is the polar opposite of Sweetie, who finds magic in all she sees and possesses boundless energy and courage. In Sweetie (Bell Bridge Books, 2010), Kathryn Magendie chronicles the adventures and tragedies of these two girlhood friends as they come of age. Melissa’s mother simply doesn’t know what to make of her daughter’s new friend who seems to pop in and out of the thicket near their mountain community on a whim. Wondering about the girl’s seeming lack of supervision, never able to grasp the fact that her name is Sweetie not “Sweet Tea,” Melissa’s mother is unsure if her daughter should continue her friendship with the unusual girl. The devotion Sweetie and Melissa feel for each other, however, outweighs any limits that test their bond. Since Melissa’s mother insists upon calling her daughter’s new friend “Sweet Tea” throughout the book, I chose Sweet Tea Rosemary Grilled Chicken as the dish to accompany Magendie’s Sweetie. It’s sweet and zesty, just like the little girl, and just as woodsy, due to the addition of fresh rosemary sprigs.

Sweet Tea Rosemary Grilled Chicken


1 whole fryer, portioned

4 black, single serve tea bags

2c. water

1 whole lemon cut in slices

1/2 c. turbinado sugar

1 medium yellow onion, julienne

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and stem end removed

1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 – 3 fresh rosemary sprigs


Bring the water to a boil, then steep the tea bags in it for five minutes.


To make the marinade, combine the lemons, onions, salt & pepper, sugar, garlic, and rosemary in a shallow baking dish.


Pour in the steeped tea.


Allow the ingredients to meld until the tea has cooled completely.

Place the chicken pieces into the marinade. Add enough water to come 3/4 the way up the chicken pieces.


Marinate in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes, turning the pieces often to ensure that they are absorbing flavor on all sides.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grill chicken pieces on a hot iron or barbecue grill.


Transfer the grilled pieces to a baking dish and finish them in the oven.


Roast until the center of each piece reaches 165 degrees.


From a very early age I have read cookbooks like novels– curled up on the couch perusing recipe after recipe, scanning images of plated food that tell a story of their own. Even when immersing myself in a novel, I find I am more drawn to those in which culinary delights play an integral role in the lives of the characters. I am certain that this literary devotion to food, and the passion my parents helped instill in me for quality ingredients and companionable cooking are what led me to begin a professional cooking career as a young adult.

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