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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Beer Can Chicken - Dancin' Chickens?


OK.  That is not a dancing chicken.  That's a dead chicken.  First of all, you might be asking, "What the heck is a dancing chicken?"  Well my friends, if you haven't heard (or tried for that matter) of beer can chicken, you're in for a treat.  Beer can chicken refers more towards a cooking method than beer flavored chicken.  So if you don't like the flavor of beer, well... what's the matter with you?  But more importantly, you don't taste any beer.  And if you really are offended by the flavor of beer, you can use any liquid in a can.  In this demo, I used a beer and a coke can.

So, now you're asking, "What's the point of a beer can chicken?  Why am I learning a new cooking method?"  Because, it's bomb.  And it'll impress your guy friends.  Trust me.  "Huh?  Why are you sticking a beer up the chicken's butt?"  That's something you'll probably get a lot.  But more importantly, because it'll make the chicken amazing.  It keeps the chicken ridiculously moist so it doesn't require brining.  It imparts a subtle flavor into the chicken as well; you're basically steaming the inside of the chicken while roasting and getting a magnificent crusty skin on the outside.  The even better part?  It's your own flavors... any flavors work!


Directions (yes, no ingredients list)

1) Rub your chicken with your favorite rub (or marinade).  I kept mine simple with some paprika, salt, pepper, lime and toasted cumin.  Keep in refrigerator at least 8 hrs to impart flavor, preferably overnight.

2) When you're about ready to grill, take the chicken out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking.  This will bring it up to room temperature.  Set up grill for indirect heating, about 350 degrees.

3) Now, chef's privilege (or burden).  Drink half the can of soda, beer, or whatever you're using.  Stick the can up the cavity of the chicken.  Play around with it so as much of the can goes in as possible.  You are not going to fit the whole can into the chicken, which is a good thing.  You're going to stand the chicken using the can and adjust the drumsticks like a tripod.  Cover the grill.  As it cooks, you want to continuously monitor the chicken as you want to turn it frequently to ensure even cooking, especially if using a coal grill.  (I didn't really have to turn it in my gas grill).  If you have leftover marinades, baste the chicken while it cooks.  This creates a layer of flavor you won't get from the rub alone.


5) Grill until internal temperatures at the thickest part of the chicken, where the drumstick and thigh joints connect, reach at least 175 degrees.  If your thermometer is not accurate or you're not confident, cook it until 180 degrees.  While you're resting your chicken, it will increase in temperature by around 10 degrees.  The cooking time will be around 75-90 minutes, depending on the temperature of the grill and the size of the chicken.

6)  When it has reached the desired temperature, remove from grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes (15 minutes, if you can wait.)  Do not remove can until after it has rested as the can will be HOT!

7) Remove can, carve and serve!

To serve, I simply jointed the chicken and served it over a bed of salad.  I used the leftover beer and chicken necks to create a gravy that I poured over the plate.the chicken heats up the salad under it and softens it a bit -- so amazing.

Even without gravy, the chicken alone is wonderful.  It's incredibly moist as the beer (or soda) steams the inside while you cook.  I've tried this multiple times and the chicken has never even been remotely dry.  The possibilities are endless with this cooking method!

Like I said, I used a combination of lime and other flavors.  But last time I did a straight up dry rub.  You can try a more Asian flavor by not rubbing/marinading it ahead of time but just basting it with a soy sauce, butter and garlic combination while the chicken is grilling.

Anyway, as you can see, the possibilities are endless!  Let me know what kind of rubs you're using of if you've tried my recipe!  (Let the chickens dance!)  Enjoy!