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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, May 30, 2004

Beer Can Chicken

Beer can Chicken is one of the great recipes of the grill. Unlike many barbecue recipes, this one produces awesome results from the oven. I live in an apartment and don't have regular access to a grill and to be honest, I'd rather fix steaks due to the time factor. This takes at least an hour to cook. And since it is Memorial Day weekend, those of you having parties and barbecues might want to toss this on the grill or in the oven. It's one I'd clip and keep myself.

Steven Raichlen, an expert barbecue cook, has the following recipe for beer can chicken:

  • Method:
    Indirect grilling

    Special Equipment:
    1 1/2 cups mesquite chips, soaked in cold water to cover for 1 hour and drained

    * 1 large whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
    * 3 tablespoons Basic Rub for Barbecue or your favorite dry barbecue rub
    * 1 can (12 ounces) beer

    1. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body cavities of the chicken. Remove the package of giblets, and set aside for another use. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water. then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub inside the body and neck cavities, then rub another 1 tablespoon all over the skin of the bird. If you wish, rub another 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture between the flesh and skin. Cover and refrigerate the chicken while you preheat the grill.

    2. Set up the grill for indirect grilling, placing a drip pan in the center. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; then, when smoke appears, lower the heat to medium.

    3. Pop the tab on the beer can. Using a "church key"-style can opener , make 6 or 7 holes in the top of the can. Pour out the top inch of beer, then spoon the remaining dry rub through the holes into the beer. Holding the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity down, insert the beer can into the cavity.

    4. When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss half the wood chips on the coals. Oil grill grate. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan. Spread out the legs to form a sort of tripod, to support the bird.

    5. Cover the grill and cook the chicken, until fall-off-the-bone tender, 2 hours. If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 fresh coals per side and the remaining chips after 1 hour.

    6. Using tongs, lift the bird to a cutting board or platter, holding a large metal spatula underneath the beer can for support. (Have the board or platter right next to the bird to make the move shorter. Be careful not to spill hot beer on yourself.) Let stand for 5 minutes before carving the meat off the upright carcass. (Toss the beer can out along with the carcass).

  • But some people disagree, like Chicago Trib columnist John Kass:

    I'll help readers do it right, with my special secret Mediterranean ingredients, so they'll be the envy of their friends.

    Steve wants you to toss wet hickory chips on the coals, to drive smoke into the chicken. This should properly be called "Hee Haw" Chicken or "Deliverance" Chicken.

    Heavy wood smoke is perfect for ribs, turkey, brisket and pork shoulder but never for a delicate chicken. That's a chicken hate crime, Mr. Steve.

    Obviously, Steve's chicken is for toothless rustics sipping jug whiskey, with hound dogs named Blue sleeping at their bare feet on a rickety porch, flies everywhere and some sullen, slow-witted adolescent squatting on a cool patch of dirt while picking malevolently on a banjo.

    Do you want that image anywhere near your back-yard deck this weekend? Of course not. Instead, you want my gentle and sophisticated Kass' Beer Can Chicken™.

    And it won't cost you $12.95. I'll give it to you for the price of this newspaper, just so Steve won't get it, that dern rip-off.

    "Hey, he didn't rip you off," said my editor. "If I'm not mistaken, you ripped it off from the New York Times, and I know this because I gave you the article. So you probably ripped him off first."

    Perhaps. But he didn't think of it first, either. It's a cheap philosophical argument, anyway. Joyously inserting an open can of beer deeply into the rump of a chicken and setting it on a covered grill is as American as jazz. Who can rip off jazz?

    What really bothers me is that he's charging $12.95, and I'm not wetting my beak in the profits.

    So without further whining, here's my free summer treat to you--how to properly make Kass' Beer Can Chicken™:

    Set up your grill for the indirect method. On a gas grill, simply turn half the burners to medium, leaving the others off. On charcoal grills, place a disposable aluminum drip pan on the bottom grate. Pile the coals on either side. Light them. Then prepare the bird.

    Use only a tender fryer (not a roaster). Remove the giblets; rinse the chicken with cold water. Throw a handful of salt in a bowl of cold water. Soak the chicken for about a half-hour. Rinse again. Pat dry.

    Squeeze a lemon into the cavity and down the neck. Squeeze the juice of another lemon or two and one tablespoon of olive oil into a cup. Stir quickly and apply to the outside skin, sprinkling salt and pepper.

    Open a beer can (not a bottle) and drink a quarter of it. Punch two small additional holes in the top of the can.

    Put one teaspoon of Cavender's Greek Seasoning into the can. Cavender's, from an ancient Greek formula, is made in Arkansas. Sprinkle Cavender's all over the chicken. If you don't have Cavender's, use oregano, a dash of garlic powder, basil, thyme, salt, pepper and a little more oregano.

    Insert the can of beer into the cavity all the way, without bending the can. The bottom of the can and the two legs serve as the base of a tripod, with the chicken sitting, upright, on the grate. Once the coals are ready, put the chicken on the top grate (on a charcoal grill). Put the cover on the grill.

    Cooking time is between one hour and 15 minutes and an hour and a half. Once done, remove chicken from grill to cool. The best way to remove the can is to lift the chicken firmly with tongs, insert a long spoon down the neck and push the can out. Enjoy.

    Since I saved you $12.95, do me a favor. Don't tell Steve.

    Personally, I cook mine at 350 in the oven on my cast iron frying pan, so I can catch the juices and make a barbecue sauce or cook some potatoes in a hot cast Iron pan.

    But no matter how you cook it, the juices stay in the bird, the fat drips down into the pan and leaves a lot of flavor. You know how chicken often sits if not in it's own juices, close enough to steam it. Which is why I like this in the oven. It's a good way to test the recipe before a barbecue.

    Also, you can use Coke, white wine or any liquid instead of beer. I used a can of ginger ale because I was out early and you can't buy beer before 12 on Sunday in New York. But the liquid rises, the chicken is cooked upright, like a rotisserie without the skewers and you get the most tender chicken possible.

    posted by Steve @ 4:15:00 PM

    4:15:00 PM

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