Beer-Can Chicken, Texas Style
I’m going to be honest. I intended for this entire post to be one big joke. What it turned into is anything but a joke. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that by sodomizing a chicken with a beer can my life has changed, my views altered, a cherry popped forever. What was meant as a joke turned into one of the absolutely most delicious meals I have had in a long time. My facetious foray into a southern delicacy yielded a chicken so moist, full of flavor and all around deceivingly delicious that I am nearly speechless about this experience. And I promise I’m not just saying this because I was a tiny bit drunk off of bad Texas beer.
You see, it all started this past weekend, Pride weekend. I indulged generously in pride, going as far as to bake rainbow cookies, sharing them with you here at Chasing Delicious. The joke would be all about my concerted effort to juxtapose the gay cookies with this not so gay chicken recipe–yes I am well aware of the irony in calling a recipe in which a beer can is forcible inserted into the anus of a bird not gay, but find me one gay guy who has made this recipe and I will stop calling it the straightest recipe out there. So, first I make rainbow cookies, and then I make the straightest recipe out there all so we can all come back here and laugh as I share my experience. I thought it would be a tongue-in-cheek chance to chastise this strange tradition. Instead I’ve been converted. I am a true believer. Beer-Can Chicken could be, with out a doubt, one of the best ways to prepare chicken out there.
Seriously. This is no joke. If you haven’t done it, then you need to. If you have, then you are probably reading this, nodding in agreement, and saying out loud, “he’s right, beer-can chicken is so fucking good.” Your wife may then respond from the other room, “did you say something Robert?” to which you will excitedly reply, “Julie, get in here! This cooking gay guy is writing about our favorite way to grill chicken. He does it too!” Ok maybe not. But if you’ve done it you know how good it is.
Of course, I wasn’t going to shove just any old beer inside a chicken. Even if the meal was going to be for a tongue-in-cheek post, I wanted to ensure my best odds at a delicious meal. I chose Shiner Bock, a Texas lager considered to be a favorite amongst many texans; it is a sweet, lightly hoppy beer that I felt would work well in this application. I also couldn’t just put a beer can alone in the cavity, despite nearly every recipe I found using only the beer, salt and pepper to flavor the bird. I decided to put some herbs–rosemary, thyme and parsley–, some lemon slices, and a little onion and garlic in the cavity too. I felt these extra flavors would help impart more flavor in the chicken. Spoiler alert: they absolutely do!
Like most recipes I researched suggested, I grilled the bird over indirect heat. This lead to a fairly slow–but not bbq slow–cooking process with a time equal to that of roasting a bird in the oven (15 minutes at 425 then 7 minutes for every pound plus 30 minutes at 350); my 4lb chicken took 1 hour and 15 minutes as I did my best to regulate the heat in the grill at about 350F (it started off quite a bit hotter).
What I got when the chicken was done was a juicy, deliciously savory and slightly sweet chicken with a perfectly golden brown crispy crust. Every bite left me wondering how an idea so seemingly simple and idiotic could produce such great results. Seriously. How is this possible? I kind of want to just hit the backspace key, delete all of this and replace it with a warning for you to get away from this recipe. I mean let’s face it, you’re sticking beer up a chicken’s butt. It’s just so damn good though. Impossibly good. Like, don’t tell my gay friends this is what I do in my spare time good. Crap. Does this mean I’m going to start hunting soon?
Beer-Can Chicken, Texas Style
Ingredients 4 lb chicken 1 can beer of your choice Handful fresh rosemary sprigs Handful fresh thyme sprigs Handful fresh parsley 1/2 lemon sliced thinly 1/2 small onion quartered 3 garlic cloves smashed Salt & pepper to taste Instructions 1. Prepare and Heat your grill. You'll want to start hot (425F) and letthe grill settle to a cooler temp (350F) during cooking. 2. Set a beer out to get to room temperature. 3. Prepare the chicken. Clean and dry the bird. Rub salt and pepper inside the cavity of the bird. Then put the lemon, onion, garlic, and parsley inside the cavity. 4. Open the beer and pour half into a cup and set aside. With half the beer in the can, pierce two more holes in the top of the can. Then stick some some of the herbs in the can. Lay the rest of the herbs on top of the can. 5. If you have a handy beer can stand made for this recipe, put the can inside the stand and then slip the bird on top of the can. If you don't have a stand have no fear. You can slide the bird onto the can and using its legs as a tripod it should stand just fine. 6. Rub olive oil and then salt, pepper, chopped rosemary and thyme on the skin of the bird. 7. Put the chicken with the beer can inside the cavity on the grill making sure that it is not over a flame or hot coals. Cooking over indirect heat will create a more moist bird. 8. Close the lid and set your timer. A 4lb bird will take 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do your best to regulate the temperature at 425F for the first 15 minutes and 350F for the remaining hour. *see notes 9. If using charcoal, be prepared to add more coals half way through the cooking time to keep the grill at 350F. 10. Baste the chicken with the remaining beer every 30 minutes or so. 11. Check for doneness after an hour and 15 minutes (or earlier if your grill runs hot) by making sure the juices run clear from the thigh. The temperature of the thigh should be about 170F when checked with a meat thermometer. 12. When done, let the bird rest 10 minutes before cutting.
There you have it, a simple enough recipe that takes about the same time to cook as it does when oven roasting a chicken. I served the chicken along with some grilled corn (wrap husked corn in foil along with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some chopped parsley, thyme and rosemary; cook on the grill for the last 15 minutes alongside the chicken).
Notes on propane grilling: If using a propane grill it will be a lot easier to manage the temperature as you have some handy dials to move around if it is too hot or too cold. Heat the grill over high heat with all burners on. Add the chicken putting it on one side. Close the lid and turn those burners on that side off, leaving the other side on. Check the temperature of the grill in 15 minutes and adjust the two remaining burners as needed.
Notes on charcoal grilling: If using a charcoal grill you will need to pay a little more attention to the cooking process. You are also most likely going to need to add hot coals later in the cooking process. First, heat the charcoals in a pyramid in the center of the grill (or in a chimney starter) and let them turn white and red. If your grill is large, move the coals to one side, if it is a smaller grill, move the charcoals around the outside for the grill, so that there is an area in the center without charcoals. Add the chicken to the area with no coals while the coals are still very hot (you should only be able to hold your hand above the grill for 2 or 3 seconds). Depending on the number of coals, the grill should cool to 300 or 325 if unchecked in about 45 minutes to an hour. Prepare more hot coals in a chimney starter or in a pan. As soon as you can hold your hand over the grate for 5 or more seconds, add the hot coals around the outside or to the side with the coals. I added hot coals at about the 50 minute mark, letting it cook another 25 minutes. You can also keep an oven thermometer in the grill if that is easier than the hand method.
Again, I definitely suggest trying this recipe. I am a bit dumbfounded I am suggesting this, but I am. We dove in and couldn’t keep our hands off this delicious bird.
This may even be a perfect July 4th Weekend recipe. Enjoy!