Thursday, May 14, 2009

BCC: Where it all began

The biker chick beer can chicken really got me thinking yesterday. Beer Can Chicken was where my obsession with BBQ began. I was watching a TV segment that featured Steven Raichlen preparing a beer can chicken. I jotted the recipe down and as soon as the program ended I ran off to the supermarket and picked up all of the ingredients. Until that day I had no idea what the u-shaped baskets that came with my Weber kettle were for. Prepped the bird , lit the fire and for dinner that night we had what we thought at the time was the best damn chicken ever. Something else transpired that evening, I was hooked on BBQ ! Just like that, It all seemed to happen so fast. Went out and bought a couple if Raichlens books, joined his discussion forum and cooked like crazy for the next few months. A lot has changed since those days. Not that it is any excuse but for some strange reason ever since I got in to competition BBQ I just dont cook like that anymore. I do love being out on the BBQ circuit and all of the great friends that I have I met along the way but a small part of me would like to go back to being that inexperienced cook that was so thristy for new BBQ knowledge.

From my BBQ youth:

Basic Beer-Can Chicken

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beer_can_chicken.jpgOkay, here it is. The master recipe for the beer-can chicken, the showstopper that will dazzle your family and friends. If you’ve never made beer-can chicken before, start here, and once you’ve mastered the basic procedure, there’s no limit to its variations.

1 can (12 ounces) beer
1 chicken (31/2 to 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Barbecue Rub (recipe below) or your favorite commercial rub
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

You’ll also need:
2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or cherry), soaked for 1 hour in water and/or beer to cover, then drained
Vertical chicken roaster (optional)

Pop the tab off the beer can. Pour half of the beer (3/4 cup) over the soaking wood chips or chunks, or reserve for another use. If cooking the chicken on the can, using a church key-style can opener, make 2 additional holes in its top. Set the can of beer aside. Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the rub inside the body cavity and 1/2 teaspoon inside the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle the oil over the outside of the bird and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tablespoon of rub and rub it all over the skin. Spoon the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of rub into the beer through a hole in the top of the can. Don’t worry if the beer foams up: This is normal.

If cooking on a can: 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 cavity. Pull the chicken legs forward to form a sort of tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear leg of the tripod is the beer can. If cooking on a roaster: Fill it with the beer mixture and position the chicken on top, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through (about 180�F on an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh, but not touching the bone), 11/4 to 11/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. If the chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.

If cooking on a can: Using tongs, hold the bird by the can and carefully transfer it in an upright position to a platter. If cooking on a roaster: Use oven mitts or pot holders to remove the bird from the grill while it’s still on the vertical roaster.

Present the bird to your guests. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift it off its support. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Halve, quarter, or carve the chicken and serve.

Serves 2 to 4

All-Purpose Barbecue Rub

Variations on this rub have appeared in each of my barbecue books. There are four basic ingredients-salt, black pepper, paprika, and brown sugar-and by varying the proportions you can create an almost endless variety of flavors. For a spicier rub use hot paprika instead of sweet paprika. You could also substitute granulated sugar, light brown sugar, or Sucanat (powdered evaporated sugarcane juice) for the dark brown sugar. There isn’t a fish that swims, a bird that flies, or a beast that walks that wouldn’t benefit from a generous sprinkling of this multipurpose rub.

1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

Put the salt, brown sugar, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. (Your fingers actually work better for mixing the rub than a spoon or whisk does.)

Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat and light; it will keep for at least 6 months.

Makes about 3/4 cup


Chris said...

I really need to try this again, it's been years. I just like to spatchcock because it is much easier to get an evenly cooked bird, especially on the Egg.

Sledneck said...

Been quite some time for me as well. I love rotisserie bird.