Beer Can Chicken
Back when my family used to actually exchange Christmas gifts, my brother and his wife gave my husband, Rick, How to Grill by Steven Raichlen. We haven't used it that often simply because we're lazy, infrequent grillers, but whenever we do it, it has been fantastic.
Since our friends, Andy and Jean, were coming over for dinner last night and we were already out of grocery budget for the month, I decided to fire up the grill and make Beer Can Chicken*. We had two whole fryers courtesy of our local warehouse foods store and a few cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon (I kid you not) already on hand.
I took the fryers out of the freezer Thursday evening so they'd have time to thoroughly thaw out in the fridge (though I took them out early afternoon and sat them on the counter, just to be sure). Before cooking, I pulled all the extra yucky stuff out of the body cavities, rinsed the chickens inside and out with cold water, then patted them dry with paper towels.
(Now would be a good time to heat up your grill for indirect grilling. We have a three burner gas grill, so Rick put some wood chips in the box and turned the two outside burners on high; you should lower to medium once the chips start smoking. We didn't, so Rick left the lid up until the heat dropped to avoid complete and total annihilation of the chickens. As a side note, not sure how much the chips added, but they didn't hurt.)
The largest hands-on time commitment was making a batch of Steven's Basic Barbecue Rub, which didn't take long. Once finished, I sprinkled about 3 teaspoons inside and outside each bird (you could also put some under the skin if you're so inclined) and put a about 1/2 a teaspoon in each opened can of beer. (You'll have plenty left over for future grill outs.)
Please note: before you get your hands all covered with bacteria-ridden raw chicken, you may want to open your beer cans (I wasn't this smart), pour about half of each can into a glass for consumption immediately following bird preparation, and make three extra holes in the tops of each can with an old-fashioned church key-style can opener. (A little research brought another option to my attention: just take off the entire top of the beer can with a regular can opener.)
Once the chickens were seasoned and the beer cans opened and half-drained, I stuck the cans up those chickens' butts to deliver one final indignity upon the poor creatures whose only crimes were giving their lives for our dining pleasure. Then I propped them up on a platter and they sat up there rather nicely, like a tripod, with the legs helping to hold them up. Finally, I tucked the wings behind their backs in a very seductive 'come hither' pose (per Steven's instructions).
From there, I just brought the tray outside, transferred the birds to the grill (onto the middle grate under which the burner was NOT turned on), closed the lid and let it do the work for the next hour and a half.
We brought them in, had a heckuva time trying to get those beer cans out of the girls' butts without spilling hot beer all over the place (Jean had a good idea I will try next time – a little Pam on the can before insertion), then cut up one of the juiciest, most delicous chickens I've ever had. Served with rice, homemade gravy and carrots. Yum!
One bird was polished off, the other untouched, so I put it in a zippered bag and into the fridge until tonight's dinner, at which time I heated the oven to 450˚, put the whole chicken in a pan and reheated it for about 20 minutes. Then I turned on the broiler for two minutes. The breast meat really wasn't hot enough, but that's mainly because I had the bird upside down – obviously, I don't know my fowl anatomy. Made more rice and gravy (I'd saved the 'extra' drippings and this time added a sprinkling of the rub the gravy – delicious) and had another stellar dinner.
So give this fast, fun and easy recipe a try. Neither you nor your guests will be disappointed.
* this version is very slightly different than the one in How to Grill