07 Sep 2010 Beer Can Chicken

My friend Adele is the queen of Beer Can Chicken.  She even tried to teach me how to do it. I failed miserably.  Mine just didn’t have the flavor that hers had.  Knowing I was beat, I decided that Adele would reign as Beer Can Chicken Queen forever. And ever.

…but the flavor of her chicken kept nagging at me.  For two years I let it bother me…

Then, the theme of my Cookbook Club in August was “Grilling”, with the book being any BBQ/Grill book by Steven Raichlen.  I already had a few of his books (BBQ Bible, How to Grill, and Sauces, Rubs and Marinades) so I thought I was all set. Wouldn’t you know I would casually wander past the cookbook section in the bookstore ANYWAY?  Just to look, of course. What should I see there but another cookbook by Steven Raichlen!  The title of this book?  “Beer Can Chicken“!  I couldn’t NOT get it. It was only $12.95…, and I had a 40% off coupon!  It was a sign!  It was time for me to attempt Beer Can Chicken, again.

Now I am not quite up to Queen Adele’s level, but I am loving this method of cooking a chicken.  For Cookbook Club I made Thai Coconut Chicken and Peach Nectar Chicken. (Pictured above.  I cooked them both on the same grill at the same time.  The darker color of one of the chickens is a result of a darker rub.)  Both went over well, but I thought the sauce for the Thai Coconut Chicken was too thick and had too much peanut butter in it.  I’ll have to make a few changes before I can endorse that recipe (like decreasing the peanut butter from 3/4 cup to 1/4 cup, and increasing the liquid a bit).  BUT, I like fruity BBQ’d stuff, so the Peach Nectar Chicken was a big hit with me.  Both of these recipes I made on the grill.

Yesterday when my 19 year old son was home, and said he wanted to learn to cook something (I couldn’t believe my ears, but I jumped right on it!). One of the things we made was Raichlen’s Basic Beer Can chicken in the oven.  I’m coverted!  He is too. This is one GREAT way to cook a chicken.  Once the nasty prep work was done (rinsing the chicken and removing the innards) it was a super easy dish to make that needed no babysitting once it was in the oven.  I told my son he could eat a week off of one roasted chicken (especially if he boiled the bones up for chicken stock and then used that for a pasta-veggie soup towards the end of the week).  I’m not sure he’s at the point to make his own chicken stock and then transform that into a soup, but I have hope for the boy.  If can master Beer Can Chicken at 19, he’s off to a good start.

Now, I’m pretty sure that you are wondering WHY you should roast a chicken when you can buy good ones at the supermarket or Costco…  The taste my friends, the taste!  This chicken is moist and flavorful.  If you give a supermarket chicken a 4 or 5, on a scale of 1 to 10, you’d give this chicken a 10 (and you’d be wishing for an 11 on the scale)!

Recipes below can be cooked in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes (check after 1 hour), or on either a gas grill or charcoal BBQ for the same length of time.  If you are unsure of how to cook indirectly on the grill or BBQ, please consult one of Steven Raichlen’s books (or view an online video). The first recipe is a basic roast chicken recipe, which we roasted in the oven and served without any sauce.  The second recipe is the one for the Peachy BBQ chicken, which I cooked on a gas grill and  served with a sauce.

Once you make one of these, you’ll be whipping up your own variations.  Will we be bringing back the traditional Sunday Roast Chicken dinner this fall?  Maybe, just maybe…, it would be easy enough… 🙂

Basic Beer Can Chicken

1 12 oz can beer (or Coke-a-Cola)
a 3 ½ – 4 lb whole chicken
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

For the rub:

1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon  Kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like  a bit of a kick)

1. Position oven an oven rack low enough to accommodate an upright chicken sitting on a can. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients for the rub into a small bowl.  Mix and set aside.

3. Pour out or drink 3/4 cup of the beer or Coke.  With a church key make 2 additional holes in the top of the now half full can (so more liquid can steam out and into the chicken).  Spray the outside of the can heavily with Pam.  Set can aside.

4. Rinse the chicken, and remove the packet of innards. Pat dry. (This is the nasty part)

5. Place 1 teaspoon of rub inside the body of the chicken.  Place ½ teaspoon rub in the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle 2 teaspoons veg. oil over the outside of the chicken and rub or brush it into the skin. Rub the oil covered chicken with 1 tablespoon of the rub.  I also put a bit of rub in between the skin of the breast and the meat of the breast. (Just pull up the skin, sprinkle in the spice mix, then rub it a round a bit) Pour remaining rub into the can of peach nectar.

6. Put the chicken on the can.  Then put the can with the chicken onto it into a roasting pan. Pull the legs forward.  The legs are two of a tripod, the can is the third. Tuck the wings behind the chicken’s back.  Chicken should look comfortable and be well balanced.

7. Place chicken in oven.  Bake for approx. 1 1/4 hours.

8. CAREFULLY remove the chicken from the oven.  Be even more careful removing the chicken from the can, don’t let any hot liquid spill on you. Removing the can from the chicken is really a two person job.  I had my son hold the chicken with foil covered oven mitts over the sink, while I pulled the can out of the chicken cavity with tongs. If you sprayed the can with Pam, this should be relatively easy to do, just a bit awkward.  If you forgot the Pam, may God be with you.

9. Let chicken sit for 15 minutes, lightly tented with foil, before carving.  We slice the breast, and serve in surrounded by thighs, drumsticks, and wings.

Peachy BBQ Chicken

1 12 oz can peach nectar
a 3 inch cinnamon stick
a 3 ½ – 4 lb whole chicken
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cups wood chunks (peach or apple) soaked for one hour in water/beer then drained (not needed if cooking in oven)

For the Rub

2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamon

For the Peach BBQ Sauce

¾ cup peach nectar
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons peach or apricot preserves
1 tablespoon honey, more to taste if desired
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dark rum (or peach schnapps)
½ teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ cup water
Kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients for the rub into a small bowl.  Mix and set aside.

2. Pour ¾ cup of the peach nectar into a measuring cup and set aside for the BBQ sauce.  With a church key make 2 additional holes in the top of the peach nectar can.  Add the cinnamon stick to the can, Spray the outside of the can heavily with Pam. Set can aside.

3. Rinse the chicken, and remove the packet of innards. Pat dry. (This is the nasty part)

4. Place 1 teaspoon of rub inside the body of the chicken.  Place ½ teaspoon rub in the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle 2 teaspoons veg. oil over the outside of the chicken and rub or brush it into the skin. Rub the oil covered chicken with 1 tablespoon of the rub.  I also put a bit of rub in between the skin of the breast and the meat of the breast. (Just pull up the skin, sprinkle in the spice mix, then rub it a round a bit) Pour remaining rub into the can of peach nectar.

5. Put the chicken on the can.  Pull the legs forward.  The legs are two of a tripod, the can is the third. Tuck the wings behind the chicken’s back.  Chicken should look comfortable and be well balanced.

6. Set up grill for indirect grilling.  Place drained wood chips in smoker box.  Preheat grill to high or until there is smoke, and then reduce to medium.

7. Set chicken on can on unheated portion of grill.  Cover grill.  Rotate chicken ¼ turn every 15 minutes.  Cook until chicken temp is 180 in thickest part of thigh, about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.

8. While chicken is cooking, combine all ingredients for BBQ sauce in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add additional salt, pepper, and honey to taste.  Serve sauce warm or at room temperature with cooked chicken.  Any leftover sauce will keep for a week, covered, in refrigerator.

9. CAREFULLY remove bird from grill.  Let chicken rest for 5 minutes then wrestle the bird off the can.  DO NOT SPILL THE HOT LIQUID or burn yourself in any other way.

10. Halve, quarter, or carve the chicken and serve with Peach BBQ sauce.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Come back again!

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One Response
  1. Adele says:

    I knew you could do it! They look beautiful! You are way more daring than me. I just do plain old beer can chicken.

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