“When the meat is gone, we’ll eat the vegetarians”.
This is the rallying cry of a barbecue herd from B.C. that takes the grilling of meat to be nothing short of a religious experience.
If done correctly, grilling may be just that – as long as the meat is not over-cooked.
Don’t even mention vegetables.
A great way to prevent meat from drying out while cooking is to incorporate the use of a special elixir I will call “beer”.
In this day and age, not everyone at the grill may be familiar with “beer”, so for the purpose of advancing the gentler half of mankind’s ability to cook stuff and still have fun, the use of wine or even chicken broth with a few spices and seasonings mixed in will do the trick.
“Why did the tasty free range chicken cross the street? Because someone was going to stuff a beer can in it.”
Yes grill fans, it is high time we discussed barbecuing “beer can chicken”.
There is a fair amount of debate as to which type of beer to use: some people prefer only stout, but as mentioned above any liquid of your choice will suffice.
You do not even have to use a beer can, as there are specialty chicken roasters available for this purchase. Yukon Brewing stocks these designer items, but a beer can works just fine and is somehow more appealing to the everyday chef.
Before getting started, be sure your beer can fits inside your chicken. Doing this over a red-hot grill is a bad time to check it out … just ask my buddy, Steve.
Depending on the size of the chicken you purchase, the can may need to be cut down a bit to suit. One way or the other, either remove the top of the can or punch holes in it so the essential beer vapours escape into the bird while cooking.
Next, make sure your barbecue lid will be able to close while the bird remains standing or, more correctly due to the end of the chicken used for the can, sitting. Use any balancing tricks you know to ensure it doesn’t end up lying down on the job.
The theory behind using beer is that the yeast and malt that it contains react with the poultry meat and skin giving you juicy, tasty meat with a thin crispy skin.
For this application, I prefer a rub as opposed to a marinade. Use any combination of garlic, cayenne, cumin, diced onion, oregano, salt or anything else you like for a customized taste.
Take half of your rub and put it in the beer can – which by now needs to be only half full of liquid – and rub the bird with the other half, working it in well.
Indirect cooking is what we are looking for, so only use one burner of your barbecue. Place the bird on the unused side with some type of drip tray under it.
While the bird is cooking, make sure any and all implements that came in contact with the raw chicken are washed.
Maintain a temperature of 300 to 350F degrees and cook until the thickest part of the chicken, the thigh, reaches 175F; be careful not to contact the bone with your thermometer. A five to six-pound chicken takes 1½ to 2½ hours using this method.
After removing the chicken from the barbecue, leave it stand, balanced on the can and covered with foil, for ten minutes or so before carving. And no matter how thirsty you are, do not drink any of the beer left in the can, spices or not.
Remember to buy locally when in season.