Given that it’s 4th of July holiday weekend, a grilled chicken is a must and this is one of my finest recipes, Citizen!
That said, there is no delicate way to put this – the beer can technique involves a whole chicken, coated with dry rub and cooked vertically supported by an open can of beer you have indelicately rammed up its rear end. <IMPORTANT TFD UPDATE – 11/24/18 – THANKS TO MY GOOD FRIENDS AND EXPERTS AT AMAZINGRIBS.COM, I AM REMINDED THAT IT IS NOT CONSIDERED SAFE OR ADVISABLE ANYMORE TO USE A BEER CAN DIRECTLY IN THE CHICKEN. A VERTICAL ROASTER IS A BETTER OPTION, WITH A WAY TO HOLD THE BEER CAN SAFELY IS BEST. THIS ONE IS A GOOD CHOICE.>
Bear with me.
Tender, falling-off-the-bone, moist on the inside, crispy on the outside: that’s what you get when you make beer can chicken and it’s remarkably easy to cook. The moist environment created by smoke-roasting a chicken vertically, atop a half-full can of beer, is a nearly fail-safe way to achieve culinary nirvana. I’ve added a liberal massage of goose fat to the bird before applying my dry rub and this does wonders for achieving a crisp skin on the final product. My secret marinade is also integral to the succulence of the chicken – don’t skip this important step!
FYI – the dry rub I created for this recipe is unmatched and makes pretty much anything delicious, up to and including a grilled tennis shoe (it’s that amazing). For those without grills, my technique is a great way to make Beer Can Chicken.
I had to develop this grill-less version when I was visiting Wales several years ago and wanted to show my friends there what beer can chicken was. Since they didn’t have a grill and they didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, I made this for them in the oven and using the basic grill techniques. That meal is apparently still a legend in South Wales and I seem to have introduced the technique to the region. 🙂
My recipe would of course be better still on the grill – just cook it for 2 hours instead of at 350 degrees, setting it at high heat for the first ten minutes to crisp the skin, then lower it down to medium.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 (3 ½ lb) chicken
Goose fat (preferred) Duck Fat (ok) or Peanut or grapeseed oil (acceptable), to coat chicken before applying dry rub
Touch of liquid smoke – maybe 1/8 teaspoon or so
FOR THE MARINADE:
1 (12 ounce) can dark beer
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, crushed (+ 3 more crushed for use in beer can)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
FOR THE DRY RUB:
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cajun spice blend
½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dried thyme, rubbed between the palms
1 tablespoon dried Summer Savory, rubbed between the palms
1 large can of dark beer (I prefer Guinness) for inserting into the chicken
1. Make the marinade by combining all marinade ingredients: whisk well to mix.
2. Remove and discard any giblets and fat just inside the body and neck cavities.
3. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water, then drain and blot dry inside and out with a paper towel.
4. Place chicken with the marinade inside a large resealable plastic freezer bag and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, turning the bird several times to marinate evenly.
5. Make the rub by combining all rub ingredients; set aside.
6. Open the beer can and drink half. Just because.
7. Remove the chicken from the bag with the marinade.
8. Discard marinade.
9. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the dry rub inside the neck cavity of the bird and 2 teaspoons inside the cavity itself.
10. Massage the liquid smoke, then the fat or oil all over the outside of the bird – then rub dry rub all over the skin.
11. Spoon any remaining dry rub into the half-filled can of beer + 3 remaining crushed cloves of garlic (beer may foam, which is normal).
12. Using a church key can opener, make 2 additional holes in the top of the can.
13. Hold the bird upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom, and lower it onto the beer can so the can fits into the body cavity.
14. Pull the legs forward to form a tripod, so the bird stands upright (the rear leg of the tripod is the beer can).
15. Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back.
16. Stick the bird inside a pre-heated oven set to Broil for 7 minutes.
17. Reduce heat to 350 and cook for a total time of no more than 2 hours. Cook until chicken skin is dark golden brown and the meat is cooked through.
18. Use an instant reading meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone; chicken is done when the meat thermometer is 165°F If chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.
19. When done, remove bird and let it rest, standing on a platter at room temperature, about 5 minutes.
20. Lift chicken off the can, taking care not to spill hot beer.
21. To serve, cut chicken in half or quarters.