Beer can chicken is a way you can cook a whole chicken on a barbecue without the need for a rotisserie
. Called other things such as beer butt chicken
and a few more obscene
things as well. It's not hard to make, but it's not just a case of inserting a can of beer into a chicken and cooking it on the barbecue, either.
I learned this from a book called the Beer Can Chicken Cookbook by Stephen Raichlen, a barbecue guru out of the midwest who also wrote a book called the Barbecue Bible - so many kudos to Mr. Raichlen for this recipe.
Things you need will be simple:
* One whole chicken
* Your favorite dry barbecue rub and some olive oil
* Twelve ounces of a good beer (and, if it comes in a bottle, a 12-ounce soda can that you have first sterilized); it's probably not a good idea to use darker beers such as stouts or porters
* Smoke chips
* A barbecue grill you can actually close, or an open grill that you can put a stew kettle on atop the chicken
* A foil baking pan
0) Get your beer. It should be a beer that you actually drink with no additives such as lime juice, and it absolutely cannot be a beer that comes by default in a clear bottle. If it's in a can, no biggie - just pour half the can into another receptacle. You need six ounces for the chicken, so the other six ounces is your call. I'll sometimes pour it on my smoke chips for soaking for no better reason than to do so - it doesn't seem to affect the flavor, though. Drink it if you're so inclined - after all, that's what beer is for.
1) Take your fully thawed (if previously frozen) whole chicken and clean it. Do not remove the skin. Remove the organ meats if they're present - dispose of them how you see fit. I tend to feed them to my cats.
(Tip here: the fresher the bird, the better.)
2) Give your now cleaned chicken a rub down with your barbecue rub. It can be pretty much whatever you think is going to be a good rub - I'm partial to a rub that is provided in the aforementioned eponymous book consisting of 2 T. salt (pref. sea salt), and 4 T. each brown sugar, ground black pepper (pref fresh ground), and ground paprika. Get it all over the bird, under the skin, and in the cavity to give the bird a really good flavor.
3) Having given the bird a rub down with the rub seasoning, take some olive oil and drizzle it over the bird. I'll use extra virgin olive oil simply because it adds a slightly different flavor to it that I particularly like. Mind you that you can use any cooking oil you want, I'm just partial to olive oil.
4) Now the fun part. Go back to your half can of beer, and insert it into the chicken. This provides a base and a sort of steaming chamber arrangement. Optionally, you will have added a bit of the barbecue rub to the beer.
5) Prepare your grill for indirect heat and light it up - that is, set up your barbecue in such a way that the placement of your meat is not directly over the source of heat. Note that your grill should be closeable with the bird on it. If you don't have a closeable grill or don't have enough headroom for your bird, you can probably use a large stewpot inverted over the bird to trap the heat, but the results are a little unpredictable.
6) Clean your grill(s), place chicken on the grill, add smoke chips, and close the barbecue. For coal grills, you will place the smoke chips directly on the coals; for gas grills, follow your manufacturer's instructions. Yes, that's right, RTFM.
(tip: No matter what Bubba says about extra flavor, dirty grills are just plain gross.)
This will cook for about 60-90 minutes. Every 30 minutes (and no less), you should check the bird - you want a nice brown skin when the bird is done, but if it appears that the skin is burning, place a bit of aluminum foil over the bird as a sort of tent. Remember too that every time you open the grill, you let heat out and add about five minutes of cooking time, so obsessive checkers should mind themselves unless they want to cook the bird all day.
(Tip: You will probably have to add additional coals after an hour. Have about two dozen sitting around waiting for this.)
7) When the bird is done, carefully remove it from the barbecue, and keep it propped up for another 5-10 minutes in the serving dish to allow the juices to settle. Then and only then should you remove the can from the bird. (The canectomy may require a second set of hands.) Serve your meal with your desired side dishes and prepare for a culinary delight.
One bird serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are. Your bird might not actually make it to the plate, so it's entirely possible you will only have to do a trivial amount of dishes. (The first time my wife and I had this, we just devoured it, forgetting our manners entirely - your mileage may vary.)