Friday, August 28, 2009

Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken- it's certainly not pushing any culinary boundaries. But as a carrier of each chromosome I feel it must be done. The result was fantastic, even better than the juiciest oven-roasted chicken.

I tried to use Miller High Life as I do like the taste of the Champagne of Beers, yet I could not find a tallboy in my nearest mega-grocer's beer aisle. That is correct, you should use a 16 oz. beer can for increased stability. So Old Style was a good substitute here. And most recipes will tell you to pour off about 1/4 of the beer. Pour off? You mean pour into my beer mug?

You can certainly modify the rub to what you have and your preferred spice level. An easy way here was to use half smoked hot paprika and half smoked mild paprika, as my dinner companion prefers a moderate amount of heat. There might be a little rub leftover for future use, so I like to put a little aside that my raw-chickeny fingers haven't touched.

This size of the protein and thus cooking time necessitates indirect grilling for this recipe. Indirect grilling depends on your setup- with charcoal the food is placed in the middle with the briquettes to the side, a three-burner gas grill is used with the middle burner off. Most people, including myself, have a two-burner gas grill, indirect grilling is done using only one side.

Just to get more mileage out of my new grilling gadget, the smoker chip box, I employed that guy here also, throwing it onto the direct side of the grill with about 50 minutes left, so it smoked for about 35 minutes of the cooking time.

Beer Can Chicken

1 broiler/fryer chicken, about 4-5 lbs.
Canola oil
1 16 oz. beer can, about 3/4 full

1/2 TB smoked hot paprika
1/2 TB smoked mild paprika
1 TB kosher salt
1 TB onion powder
1/2 TB cayenne pepper
1/2 TB ground cumin
1 ts dried thyme
1 ts dried oregano
1 ts black pepper
1 ts garlic powder

Combine all rub ingredients into a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Separate about 1/4 of the rub, depending on the size of the bird.

Remove chicken from fridge about 20-30 minutes before you plan on grilling. Rinse chicken thoroughly and remove neck and giblets, then pat dry and place on a cookie sheet. Open your tallboy and take a few sips, removing about 4 oz. Make another hole in the beer can top with a church-key style opener. If you don't have one stab with something sharp and try not to injure thyself. Cover the chicken with canola oil, ensuring to get all up in those legs and wings and the cavity. Slowly work your fingers between the skin and breast so you can cover the entire breast with the rub. Work the rub over the entire chicken and the cavity as well. Toss about a teaspoon or two of the rub into the beer can...this will foam a little, so do this in the sink. You can spray or rub some oil onto the outside of the beer can too, this will ease the beer can extraction later.

Place the beer can onto the cookie sheet and work the chicken onto it. Using kitchen twine or silicone bands, tie up the ends of the legs and tuck the wings behind so they don't burn.

Fire up both sides of the grill for about 10 minutes. Once ready to grill, turn off one side and turn one side down to about medium-high, depending on the temperature. You want about 325-350 F with the lid closed. Throw an oven thermometer in there to be sure. You do have an oven thermometer, right?

Place beer can chicken onto indirect side of grill and close lid. You might want to get another one of those tallboys and stay close for the first bit, ensuring your bird isn't going to fall over. Use the two legs and can as a tripod, sort of like my friend's 3-legged dog. Okay, 3.5 legs to be fair.

After about 40 minutes, rotate the chicken so the other side faces the flame. Total cooking time will be about 75-90 minutes, depending on the size of bird and temperature of the grill.

Your dinner will be ready when the middle of the leg reaches 180 F, so removing from the grill at about 175 F will do, as the temp will increase a little once removed from the heat, covered with foil resting about 10 minutes.

Once rested for a bit, fold up that foil to hold the base of the beer can. Using another piece of foil backed with gloves or kitchen towels, pull the bird off the chicken. I forgot to oil the beer can, so I had to pull a little. Try not to disturb the skin too much, as we all know you eat first with the eyes. Don't forget about the juice that accumulated while the chicken was resting-pour that over the plated chicken.

Carve up and enjoy. Some couscous and grilled garlic bread served as perfect accompaniments for this easy weeknight dinner.

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