So in my previous post today I referenced beer can chicken and one reader wasn’t sure what I was referring to. It may be a North American thing, since I recall now that the British Army chaplains who used to visit my house during my last posting were always unsure what it was as well. I’m not sure how common they are in Europe, but in Canadian suburbs, most people do their cooking outdoors on their gas grills during the summer months, and some like myself have been known to cook on them during the winter. Usually I just do burgers, pork chops, the odd rack of pork ribs to keep the heat down in the kitchen during the summer months, but this is a special recipe for the occasional lazy weekend. Beer can chicken has a blue collar, redneck aura to it, but it’s fun to cook and delicious when you do it right.
Here’s what it looks like.
Mmmmm, delicious. Here’s what you need.
1) A whole chicken - they are getting pricier all the time. I was lucky enough to find one yesterday at the grocery store for just under $10 Canadian.
2) An outdoor barbecue or grill. I have a decent propane gas grill, but I suppose you could cook it on charcoal.
3) A specialized stand like the one shown here. I got mine from WalMart for less than $10C but I’ve seen fancier ones sold elsewhere for more money. Most hardware stores, like Canadian Tire, or online stores like Amazon, sell versions. I also use a stainless steel bbq tray as you see above.
4) A can of beer. I prefer using a lager or lighter beer or an IPA. Today it was a Moretti.
5) Herbs. There are many recipes for the herb coating but today I was lazy and used ClubHouse Italiano herb mix.
Here’s what you do.
1) Thaw your chicken and make sure the interior cavity is empty of gizzards and other nasty things.
2) Drink roughly half your can of beer (the best part). Then use a knife or can opener and make 3-4 holes in the top of the can around the hole where you drink the beer from.
3) Inset the can in the beer can holder and place it on your cooking pan or tray if the beer can holder doesn’t have a built-in pan as some do.
4) Insert the, ummm, beer can in the chicken using the chicken’s, err, posterior orifice. Liberally coat the exterior of the chicken with your herb mix.
5) Place the whole thing in your grill or bbq and turn the heat to as low a setting as possible. Put the cover down on your grill.
6) Let the chicken cook for between 90 minutes to two hour. Start checking on regularly it after 60 mins. You don’t want to cook it too hot and too long or it will dry out. If I was smart, I’d use a meat thermometer, but I simply stick a knife in and look to see if the juice is clear, which is how I was taught to see if chicken was cooked.
7) When it’s done, carefully remove the chicken off the beer can, using washable oven mitts or several paper towels, etc. Pour the remainder of the beer from the can onto the chicken. As you do this, you may notice that there is less beer in the can at the end. It should come apart easily with a knife, but shouldn’t be so cooked that it falls apart at the touch of a knife.
8) Have another can of beer as you enjoy your chicken.
That being said, there is a fierce debate over this method, and whether it is the best way to cook a chicken. Some say no and claim to have science behind them. All I can say is that Madame Padre and I quite enjoyed our beer can chicken tonight.