So I finally decided to try my hand at making a beer-can chicken. I've been hearing about them all over the place, and the idea of cooking a poor chicken with a can crammed up its behind cracks me up. Needless to say, I had to try it and today was going to be the day.
So I ran around like a nut trying to get all the ingredients and supplies I needed together, read about a billion different recipes on it, got the beer, got a chicken and fired up the grill.
I'll stop for a moment now and take a few seconds to explain the concept to those of you who are completely lost. A beer-can chicken is a seasoned full chicken that has been indirectly grilled (the coals are on the sides of the grill, not directly under the bird) in a bbq while sitting upright on a half-can of seasoned beer. The idea here is that the indirect grilling prevents the bird from burning or cooking too fast, the upright position helps all the fat burn off and drip out of the bird and the beer imparts a subtle flavor to the bird and keeps it moist. You can also add soaked wood chips (I did - even soaked them in beer) for a smokier flavor. They are by all accounts I've read, awesome tasting.
A little over two hours later, the bird was nice and toasty and ready to make it's final trip from the grill to the plate. It looked utterly delicious I must say, and the time spent after presenting it and waiting for the bird to cool was torture.
The bird on the grill just before being removed (above) and the bird on a plate in the kitchen (below) prior to being served. Yes, I am aware the chicken on the plate is breast-side down.
It's one of those things where I wasn't just curious as to how well it came out, but that I was hoping that it didn't completely suck, thus making everyone hungry and pissed at the same time. Nothing is worse than priding yourself on your BBQ skills and then making a dish that completely bites. People won't remember that great steak you made last month, but they'll remember that f'ed up chicken forever.
The moment of truth came, and I cut into the bird.. Before you think this is going to turn into some poultry horror story, it isn't. The bird didn't explode, wasn't undercooked, wasn't burned, and didn't emit some kind of noxious odor. In short, it tasted like... chicken... and therein lies the problem.
There was nothing magical about the chicken in general. I could have just crammed the sucker into an oven and gotten virtually the same results. It was tender, it was moist and it most certainly tasted like chicken, but where was the uber taste everything I had read marveled about? In short, where was the payoff for all the work?
It was in the skin, wings and legs. They were, from all accounts, delicious. While the breast meat of the chicken was fairly ordinary, the extremities tasted amazing. My guess is that the chicken was too big for all the seasoning to seep into the bird. I had a feeling the bird was a bit too large (it was an 8 lb roaster) but it was the only chicken I had.
Places where the meat wasn't overly deep had a great flavor while remaining just as tender as the rest of the chicken. Had the whole bird tasted like those parts, I would probably have been crowned "King of the Grill" on the spot.
So that was my first experience with beer-canning a chicken. Not the resounding success I had hoped for, but certainly not a failure either. I've still got two more roasters, so I may try again on July 4th. This time I think I'll let the bird sit awhile longer while seasoned, and I'll have to work on getting the seasoning under the skin and deeper into the bird.
Got any beer-can chicken tips? If it's not a family secret, let me know - I'd love to hear them.
Posted by nylatenite
at 6:32 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006 6:41 PM EDT