Beer Can Chicken Tastes Good When Grilled
Organic chicken is a farm-market delight.
Kelly Burgess is on vacation this week, so we are re-publishing one of her favorite receipes for summer -- Beer Can Chicken. This column originally ran on May 22.
Yes, it's still wet. We all know that.
If you think you're suffering, take a moment to pity the poor farmer. I got a sad email this week from Art King, owner of Harvest Valley Farm Market & Bakery, lamenting the wet weather. He wrote:
I get up every morning and reluctantly look out our bedroom window hoping to see things normal, but every day it is the same thing...standing water. I had very carefully chopped straw over each of the fields of plastic that Larry and Dave had laid by my house knowing that if I didn't, it could erode the freshly tilled soil if it rained hard. Nothing could have prepared those fields for the rain we received that night, however, 1.63 inches in 20 minutes! The worst rain event we have ever seen.
And, of course, it has rained every day since then.
The good news is they did get some tomato plants planted in the mud, although three weeks later than normal. And he also wanted to let his email subscribers know about what they did have at the market --- fresh pies, a new brand of tea, cookies and other baked goods, and a few other goodies.
That's the great thing about farmer's markets -- they have interesting products even when the season is not going so well. Because I pop into farm markets frequently just to get out of my office and to see if they have anything new, I get to try a lot of their other specialties.
Last week I also went to Eichner's Family Farm in Wexford (Motto: The Freshest Eggs in the North Hills!) They have some of the most gorgeous herbs ready to plant that I've ever seen. If it ever dries up enough for me to actually plant herbs, that's where I'm going to get them.
Like most farm markets, Eichner's doesn't have much to offer yet in the way of fruits or veggies, but what they do have are chickens. Free-range, organic chickens from their own farm. I bought one and cooked it for dinner that night and it was delicious. I don't live in Wexford, but this tasty bird was worth making a special trip. Or many special trips.
Unfortunately, I have to be careful about chicken around my house because my husband isn't a fan, to put it mildly. Unlike my kids, who eat just about anything, he's a very picky eater but, in his defense, if I had grown up in his weirdly food-controlling household, I would probably have food issues as well.
It's difficult to live with someone who doesn’t like chicken. Chicken is relatively inexpensive, easy and versatile and most people do love it. I mean, we use the phrase "tastes like chicken" to approve of meats we may otherwise be suspicious of.
Fortunately, my husband does like beer. So, a few years ago I interviewed cookbook author Stephen Raichlen and one of the recipes I tried from his cookbook, "The Barbecue Bible," was Beer Can Chicken. Raichlen didn't invent this recipe, and there are many variations of beer can chicken. Regardless of which you choose, it makes for a tasty, tender bird. It's one of the very few chicken recipes my husband likes. Although he'd never say it tastes like chicken, because that wouldn't be a good thing to him.
Recipe: Beer Can Chicken
This is a very basic recipe for beer can chicken. Some call for special rubs, some for brining the chicken for 8 hours, or adding wood chips to the coals, etc. I like to keep it simple.
I used the chicken I bought from Eichner's and it was even better than usual. I also use Lawry's Seasoned Salt, which is just a personal preference. Some years ago I had wings at a woman's home that she had made herself and that was her secret ingredient. I've since found a sprinkling of it on chicken skin improves just about any chicken dish.
- 1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Seasoned salt, a favorite dry rub, or just salt and pepper
- 1 can beer -- not light beer
Remove upper rack from grill and preheat grill to medium-high. This chicken is cooked over indirect heat, so if you have a gas grill, you'll place the chicken to one side and turn the heat off on that side. If you have a charcoal grill, prepare it for indirect cooking and place bird in center.
Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with either the seasoned salt, a dry rub, or salt and pepper.
Open beer can and either drink or pour out half (this is where my husband "helps" me in the kitchen).
Place beer can on a solid surface, such as a platter or cutting board so you can carry it to the grill. Place the chicken upright on the beer can, firmly inserting the beer can into the bird's cavity. Transfer the bird to the grill -- placing it either in the center or to the side, balanced on the beer can and both legs, like a tripod. Close grill lid.
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat about 1 1/4 to 1 ½ hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees. Remove from grill and let cool for 15 minutes or so before carving. And be careful, the beer can will still be hot. I have someone hold the chicken with potholders, with two hands, and lift it for me while I carefully remove the beer can with another potholder.