Monday, April 14, 2014

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You asked so here it is: the basics of this recipe are a chicken and a can of beer . . . S.L.

The essence of the beer can chicken is the bird is cooked from within by steam power. BEER steam! To add flavor, I do a homemade Spice Rub - basic mixture of salt and pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, those dried onion flakes you can buy at the store, and any additional herbs and spices I find in the drawer that look like they'll do the trick.

Taste preference is important in selecting beer. Some people are militant about this decision. Many will argue that stout is the only beer for beer can chicken, while others favor any beer but stout. I don't want to get into that here. Personally, I prefer Coors (the Yankees up here think I'm a Philistine but who cares - so do the rest of my family and I still roast the best beer can chicken).

If you don't like beer, there are other options. Wine has become a popular substitution for this recipe for the cucumber sandwiches crowd who extend their pinkies just so. Whatever. I guess wine comes in a can in some wine shoppe somewhere but I imagine actually owning a can of it is grounds for getting yourself drummed out of the cucumber sandwich club for life.

What part of BEER CAN CHICKEN don't you understand?

Having said all that, the ingredients for this recipe are:

• 1 whole 5 to 6 pound chicken
• 1 can of beer
• spice rub
• olive oil - extra virgin
• A wedge of onion

Tip 1: Before we get started. Make sure that the can of beer fits inside the chicken. You don't want to fight with this over a live fire.

Tip 2: Make sure the place that you set the chicken is tall enough for it to be in a upright position. You don't want to lower the lid of your grill only to find that the chicken doesn't fit.

Cut off the top of the beer can. This maximizes the flow of moisture from the beer to the bird. Most can openers can be used for this task. Next, drink some of the beer until the can is half full. If you like you can add some of your spice rub to the can and give it a quick stir. The can is now ready.

Cover the bird in olive oil and apply your spice rub. Don't worry too much about getting it on the skin. Skin won't let flavor reach the meat, so try to work your spice rub in under the skin as much as possible. Get it inside the chicken as well. Just because you put rub in the beer doesn't mean that it will season the inside too much. The spice in the can adds flavor but not like direct contact.

Beer can chicken is grilled indirectly. Build your fire around either side of the chicken. I take it a step further and fabricate a doughnut shaped heat shield with four layers of aluminum foil and a scissors. The bird doesn't burn but the beer still boils to steam the bird from within.

Place the beer can on the grill right where you want the bird to be.

This guy is using a pie pan as a heat shield / grease catcher

With the can in place it is time to sit this bird down. You will get your hands dirty here. Don't worry about it. They sell special frames for beer can chicken down at the hardware store. Sit the bird in place, then wedge the piece of onion into the neck of the chicken to seal the top of the bird. This holds the moisture inside and is the real secret of beer can chicken.

Close the lid on the grill and wash everything. Chicken is nasty; when the bird is on the grill everything that did or could have touched that bird has to be washed. When the chicken is done and ready to come out, there shouldn't be a single germ left behind.

Maintain a grill temperature around 300 to 325 degrees F. (150 to 165 degrees C) during the cooking time.

If you build your fire right then you shouldn't have much to do now but wait for the beer can chicken to cook. Time isn't important to chicken, temperature is. When this bird reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees F. (80 degrees C.) the bird is ready to come off the heat. Measure the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh being careful not to touch the bone with your thermometer. Once removed from the grill, allow the chicken to rest for ten minutes before carving it (if that's what you want to call pulling apart this fall off the bone meat).

A 5 to 6 pound bird should take you about two hours to cook depending on the temperature.

Once the chicken has had time to rest it is ready to carve. The can tends to get stuck inside the bird; you can pull it out with a pair of tongs, or poke it with the giant fork that comes with your grilling kit and pull it out that way.

With the beer can out of the chicken, this is the best Barnyard Pimp you ever tasted.



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