How much barbecued chicken can one eat in a summer? We are not sure, but we aim to find out. Especially since we want to avoid the hot kitchen as much as possible.
Of course, there are a gazillion community and festival chicken barbecues to hit up, but we’d like to suggest a ride to Krolick’s roadside barbecue stand.
Part chicken cookery, part picnic grove, you cannot miss the joint on Route 16 in Chaffee. Just look for the billowing smoke just after crossing Route 39.
We’ve written about Krolick’s before. It is the youngest of our local chicken barbecue royalty, a la Chiavetta’s, Wendel’s and Weidner, whose route to chicken barbecues emerged from raising chickens. Or as Marty Wendel once so eloquently stated, “We’d deliver chicken to fire departments for their events and we get there, they’d ask, ‘Can you help us cook it?’ ”
Krolick’s history started when Stan Krolick would help local churches with their chicken barbecues. Around 2003, Krolick had perfected his sauce and it began with help from his son, Jake.
We hit the stand on a recent sweltering Saturday afternoon. The stand menu is basic, but hits all the high notes. A barbecue chicken dinner ($11) includes two sides, roll and butter. Barbecued ribs ($13) and barbecue chicken and rib ($13) dinners include the same. Chicken only ($8), rib only ($10) and chicken/rib only ($10) are available.
Not in the mood for a dinner? Sandwiches are available: pulled pork ($8), hamburger ($6), barbecued burger ($6.50), Jake BBQ burger with pulled pork ($8), roast beef ($7), hot dogs ($4) and chicken fingers ($6) round it out. Sandwiches come with chips, add two sides for $2 to make it a combo.
Weekly specials are a buck off regular prices: Tuesday, pulled pork combo ($9), Wednesday chicken/rib dinner ($12) and Thursday roast beef combo ($8).
Weekdays only the stand serves the Stan Super Steak Hoagie ($8), and on Fridays, Krolick’s throws in a fish fry ($11) with sides, rolls and butter ($8 fish only).
Sides choices are potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, apple sauce, French fries, baked beans, green beans, salt potatoes and macaroni and cheese (which unfortunately wasn’t available on our stop).
All the chicken barbecue families have their own version of the Cornell sauce, and Krolick’s is just as delicious.
My chicken was juicy, with the barbecue sauce sticking to my fingers as it should. A nice blend of spices, it’s not too salty. Stan’s secret recipe holds true. The salt potatoes were fantastic, but not too salty either. Perfectly cooked and hot, the best part was using the potatoes to mop up the chicken barbecue sauce in the container.
Rib dinners were equally tasty. Done with a traditional sweet/spicy red barbecue sauce, the meat came right off the bone.
Baked beans had a nice sweetness to them. While a little more plain, the macaroni salad was fresh and creamy. And who doesn’t love the super soft egg rolls?
Picnic tables are rudimentary. There are some in the sun and shade. It’s like camping. (We even think we saw a Porta-Potty.) There is enough space that if you wanted to bring along your own seats or picnic blanket, we don’t think Krolick’s would mind.
With all the chicken being cooked, one might wonder with just a few folks eating on site (or stopping for takeout) where is all the chicken going?
We asked a guy lighting up an auxiliary charcoal pit.
“We have 1,000 chickens going out today,” he said, smiling as he doused the mounds of charcoal before lighting. We pulled out before he threw the match.
12132 Route 16, Chaffee
Open: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, from April through October.
Note: Located at 12466 Vaughn St. (Route 240) in East Concord, Wendel’s also has a roadside stand at their farm, open Saturdays and Sundays only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., May through October.