Beer can chicken was one of those dishes that sounded like a myth to me especially considering it goes by an assortment of names; beer butt chicken, beer in the butt chicken, or chicken on a throne. I’ll stick with beer can chicken, thank you very much.
While I can’t take credit for making the beer can chicken, I can surely attest to the fact it not only exists but it works. CJS and MD were on a mission to dazzle the group, and that they did. I gladly took a backseat to cooking in order to observe and photograph. I’m tempted to refer to CJS and MD as Savage and Hyneman, but I’ll refrain.
Basic Guidelines of Beer Can Chicken:
- Indirect heat
- Empty cavity [of the chicken]
- ½ can of beer [or any other liquid you prefer]
- Vertical placement of chicken over can
- Any rub or seasoning you like [either on the skin or in the liquid or both]
- Ideal finishing temperature of about 180°F, though some say 165°F [read temp at the thickest part of the chicken- usually thigh]
- Let it rest!
Some basic and easy-to-follow recipes:
Why it works:
- “Why Beer? So why does this work so well? First of all, you are adding a source of moisture to the chicken that keeps it from drying out. Second, you are adding beer. Now, more than the fact that beer is good, the yeast and malt found in beer reacts with the chicken, particularly the skin, making it thin and crispy while the meat remains juicy. ” - from bbq.about.com
- Put a drip pan below the grill flames … the skin is very fatty and can make a mess of your grill.
- Put a small pan of water mixed with beer on top of the drip pan as the steam inside the grill is critical. MD prefers using water-soaked wood chips on his charcoal grill but we were using a gas grill so this wasn’t an option for us.
- Keep the temperature low for the first part of cooking - you can increase the temperature later to crisp up the skin.
- You should probably invest in a meat thermometer.
- Last but not least it’s very important to keep the grill top closed as much as possible. The chicken is cooking as if it’s in an oven so every time the top gets opened all the heat escapes. No bueno.
Try any variation of herbs or rubs you like. Here are some suggestions:
- Salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon, and honey
- Rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon
- Garlic salt, pepper, lemon, old bay, olive oil
- Basil, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon
- Minced garlic, cayenne, paprika, onion powder, coriander, cumin
- BBQ sauce [keeping it really simple]
- The options are endless.
Don’t like beer, be creative and try other liquids using the same technique of placing the rub/flavorings on the skin and in the liquid.
- Dr. Pepper
- Root beer
- Celery soda
A huge thanks to CJS and MD for doing all the heavy lifting. The finished product was nothing but a juicy, crispy and flavorful bird!