Monday, September 24, 2007

Beer Can Chicken: Not Just for Frat Boys

what PBR is good for
Beer in a can reminds me of college. I think of the frat boys chugging it, then smashing the cans on their foreheads, or making huge pyramids of the empties. "Shotgunning" is another frat boy activity that comes to mind when I think of beer cans. For those of you not "in the know" about such hi jinks, this involves making a hole in the side of an unopened can (usually done oh-so-safely with a ballpoint pen), then putting one's mouth over the hole while popping open the top of the can, creating a rapid flow of beer into said mouth. So, you're probably getting the picture----I don't exactly have a high-class opinion of beer in a can (or frat boys, for that matter---excluding my dear husband, who, of course, couldn't possibly have participated in such shenanigans!). Beer Can Chicken, however, is an entirely different story. Whether or not you like beer, you will love this recipe. Even your kids will love it, and I promise they won't be smashing cans on their heads after dinner is over.

The best part about Beer Can Chicken is that it is almost impossible to ruin. If you have an outdoor grill and a can of beer, you're halfway to success. Instead of using cut-up chicken parts, Beer Can Chicken uses a whole chicken. By cooking it whole, it retains more moisture and is more flavorful. In addition, by cooking the bird in a bit of an unconventional way, you are just about guaranteed a juicy result.

First preheat your grill to high heat (or about 450 degrees) while you prepare the chicken for cooking. To prepare the bird, rinse it under cold running water, then pat it dry with paper towels, inside and out. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, or your favorite poultry seasoning. Then rub some oil all over the outside of the bird, and season it as well. The last step of preparation is easy; pop open a can of beer and have a few slugs. Because we always tend to have bottled beer in our house, I have been known to fill an empty diet Coke can about three quarters of the way with beer, which works equally as well. The key is to have the can only partially full, to avoid overflow onto your grill grates.

Now comes the fun part. Take your chicken by the wings, and stand it up on it's hind legs. Place the beer can, right side up, into the bottom cavity (yes, it looks as unfortunate as you may imagine), and prop it right on top of the grill grates. You may have to reposition the legs in order to keep it from falling over, since the goal is to have it standing straight up. Now, close the grill cover and leave it to cook for about an hour. Because no part of the meat is touching the hot grill grates, it is not necessary to open the cover to check, flip, or prod your bird. The combination of the indirect heat source and the moisture of the beer steaming through the meat will allow it to cook slowly and evenly, and it can be left alone.

After about an hour, use a meat thermometer to test the temperature in both the breast and inner thigh. The internal temperature should reach 160-165 degrees in the breast, and about 180 in the thigh. Or, you may simply use your observational skills. When you make a small incision into the meat, is it no longer pink? Are the juices running clear? If yes, your bird is likely cooked. A smaller bird may be ready after only an hour, while a slightly larger bird may need an additional fifteen or twenty minutes. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked, allow it to rest for approximately 15 minutes before carving. This period of rest lets the juices redistribute in the chicken, instead of running all over your cutting board and rendering the meat dry. Once carved, you'll find a juicy, succulent, delicious chicken, that is perfect for a small gathering or family dinner. And no, it will not taste like beer! The beer does impart some flavor, but it is subtle and likely unidentifiable. All you'll taste is good, moist chicken!

So, pop open a can of beer, and make the most of the end of grilling season! No frat boys required!

Beer Can Chicken

1 4-5 lb. whole chicken, giblets removed

1 can beer

2 T Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Preheat your gas grill to high.
Wash and pat dry the chicken, and rub the outside with olive oil.

Season the bird, inside and out, with salt and pepper.

Spill out (or drink) about 1/3 of the beer, and place the can inside the bottom cavity of the chicken.

Place the chicken/beer can, standing up, in the center of the grill grate.

Turn the center burner off, leaving the front and rear burners on medium-high heat.

Close grill cover and cook for approximately 1 hour.

Using a meat thermometer, check internal temperature of breast and inner thigh. It should read 160-165 degrees in the breast and 180 in the thigh.

Continue cooking until chicken reaches above temperatures.
Remove to a platter and allow bird to rest for 15 minutes.
Carve and serve.

Serves 4.


mom said...

Ooh - must try! Can you really close the grill cover? It isn't too tall?


Absolutely---- with anything but the very small grills, just get a chicken that is under 5 lbs and you should be in business. To make it even yummier----try putting some seasoning inside the can too---any sort of poultry rub will do, but you can also put garlic, fresh rosemary, or anything that tickles your fancy!