Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beer Can Chicken

This is another one of those meals that I kick myself for not trying earlier. My brother and parents had been talking about it for a long time before I made it. Now it has become a staple that I make at least once a month.

I always forget to take pictures because we eat it so darn quickly so this is a pretty tasty looking one I found. There are 100s of recipes out there on how to make it, I go as simple as possible. You can make beer can chicken in the oven or on the grill, either charcoal or gas works fine. I have never actually tried it in the oven, as I prefer grilling, but I'm sure it would be excellent. The reason I prefer grilling is you can use indirect heat which I think makes for a much crispier, tastier skin. And this recipe is all about crispy tasty skin. If the thought if 360 degrees of beautifully browned skin doesn't make your mouth water a bit then I don't know what is wrong with you.
Regardless of charcoal or gas, set up your grill with a two zone fire. If you have a three burner grill light only the left and right or top and bottom burners, leaving the center burner off. For charcoal divide the coals equally on the left and right sides of your grill and leave the center open. I use a chimney starter and find that if I put 6-8 unlit coals down on the bottom of the grill and then evenly divide the hot coals between the two halves then I have enough sustained heat that I don't need to add more coals. The high heat at the start of grilling browns the skin immediately and the gradually decreasing heat allows the chicken to cook through without drying out.  The beer will steam your chicken from the inside and help it to cook evenly. It also infuses flavor.
While your grill is heating, prep your chicken. Typically we use chickens that come in about 4 lbs or so. This is the easy part. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper inside and out. I rarely use anything more than thyme and garlic as additional seasonings. Once your chicken is seasoned all around, open a can of beer. Drink about 1/3 to 1/2 of the can. Invert the chicken onto the beer can and place in the center of your hot grill.  You can certainly purchase one of the many commercial beer can chicken racks on the market, I just use the legs to prop the chicken up a bit. If you are using gas you want to start off on medium high and then reduce to  medium low after 15 minutes or so, cook for another 45 minutes. If you are using charcoal, close the lid and walk away for an hour. Perhaps drink another beer in either case. 

After an hour open the lid and take a look. The skin should be universally golden brown. Use  an instant read thermometer and check the temperature of the thigh you are looking for 165. The trickiest part of this whole dish is extracting the beer can without over-handling the chicken and tearing that tasty skin. The best approach I have found is using a potholder (ove gloves or welding gloves are better) hold the beer can at the base and then insert a meat fork into the other end and pull up on the fork. By sticking the fork inside you can get enough purchase to lift without tearing up the meat. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes then serve and enjoy.

If roasting a chicken is one of those things you feel like you always screw up then I encourage you to try beer can chicken. It is simple to do and hard to screw up.

On a personal note, I apologize for the lack up updates lately. I have this mindset that I only want to post new recipes on the blog so even though I am cooking regularly I have not been experimenting much of late. I am going to work on posting more, smaller updates through the week instead of waiting for that perfect "blogworthy" recipe.