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[P]
"Beer Can Chicken": Sure, it's cheesy, but it works

By LairBob in Culture
Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:52:30 AM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

I know...you've probably heard of this before. This guy has been all over TV in the past year or so, acting like he invented it, and now you can even buy cooking paraphernalia to make your life easier. So I'm not purporting to bring some blindingly innovative technique to light.

Nevertheless, if you can look past the faddish element, and get over the kinda goofy "white trash" aspect, this is a very consistent route to an impressively tender, flavorful roasted chicken. Think of this as a low-budget, low-risk equivalent to the whole "deep-fried turkey" thing--it really does make a great chicken, and equally importantly, if you're having friends over, it's got pretty good entertainment value.


Much as I might joke about it, this really is a remarkably consistent and successful technique for cooking chicken. For many folks who like to cook, roasting or otherwise preparing a whole chicken is the real test of someone who knows what they're doing. Ending up with a chicken where the white meat and dark meat are both thoroughly cooked, but they're both moist, and the dark meat's not greasy while the white meat isn't dry, is no simple thing. As Esquire notes:
Although bistro classics (like steak frites and roast chicken) have become ubiquitous, they are still an excellent way to judge the overall quality, the integrity, of a kitchen. There's no hiding the facts with a straightforward dish like this: It takes focus to roast a bird with crispy skin and tender juicy meat, and the ability to produce one at home is second-nature to any cook worth his kosher salt.
Ironically enough, this goofy approach does a great job of just that. What's more, this happens to have the added virtue of cooking a very lean chicken, as well--roasting the bird upright allows most of the fat to run off the bird, and for the entire skin to get lean and crispy (instead of half-crispy, half-soaked in fat). If you do like to cook chicken, this is really something you ought to try.


When I generally write recipes out for my friends, I'm assuming that the value to them is in the hard-won personal insights. If it weren't for that personal component, why not just look it up in a cookbook, or on the Internet, right? For myself, I've worked through most of the tiny mechanical details that make this a painless and very reliable dish, but it took a fair amount of experimentation and failure to get there. I'm hoping that if you're genuinely interested in trying this, I can help you get it right on the first try, and then you're on your own, to take it where you want.
For anyone who already knows how to basically cook a chicken and just wants to hear the basics, let me summarize the process up front. If you're interested in the details that should really help you get it right, I'll go on after that to the pedantic, excessively detailed version.


"Beer Can Chicken": Short Version

1. Mix up a dry rub, and prep the chicken
2. Punch out the top of the beer can, pour out 2/3 of the beer, and throw in some dry rub
3. Stick the can up the bird, and stand it up on the grill
4. Cook the bird, on a covered grill (lid closed), over indirect heat
5. With 30 mins left to go, glaze/sauce the bird
6. When chicken is done, let stand for about 10 mins
7. Remove can, carve bird, and enjoy


"Beer Can Chicken": Loooong Version

Step 1) Mix up a dry rub
Make up the "dry rub" in a big, big bowl. Don't bother buying any of the store-bought crap--it sucks, it's full of chemicals, and you'd have to buy 3 or 4 canisters to have enough. You've got a lot of leeway here--almost any tasty mix of dry ingredients will work fine. I usually use...
  • 1/2 cup or more each of brown sugar, white sugar, salt, pepper
  • About 1/4 cup of paprika
  • Big dashes each of cayenne pepper, red chili pepper flakes, cinnamon and ground dried garlic.
  • Whatever else you can think of that might be good--curry, cumin, dried herbs, chocolate powder...go nuts
Several people have commented that this sounds like it's very sweet--trust me, it's not, but if you're still leery, adjust or change the ingredients to anything you'd like. In general, though, by the time the sugar's been roasting for a couple of hours, it's caramelized and picked up the grill flavor, and turned into a much more savory flavor component than you might expect. Still, to each his own.
Just make sure you end up with a lot of the rub--enough to thickly coat the whole chicken, inside and out--so be generous with the ingredients. Really flavorful spices, like curry, cayenne pepper, etc. are just too intense to apply in this kind of quantity, without being cut with something, so even if you choose not to have a lot of sugar and salt, you need enough of a milder "base", like mild paprika, maybe, that you can coat the chicken thoroughly. Someone's also suggested starting with a mustard rub, and then applying the spices--I've never tried that myself, but it sounds like it might be really good.
(Incidentally, there are a couple of different companies now that make those "spice mills" with built-in grinders that you can pick up in the supermarket--the garlic isn't garlic salt or garlic "powder", but actual dried garlic in a disposable little mill. That makes a huge difference. I find that all the different milled spices are pretty good, except--ironically--for the salt and pepper.)

Step 2) Fire up the grill.
You basically always want to grill chicken, especially a whole chicken, over indirect heat. If you've got burners that you can control independently, turn off any burners directly below the chicken, and cook the bird on the indirect heat from the outer burners (with the lid down). If you've got a better charcoal grill, like a Weber, you can do the same thing by banking the coals to the outside of the grating. Get the grill to about 350-400F (175-200C).
That brings up maybe the single biggest element to grilling chicken successfully...thermometer(s). You want to be pretty confident of the actual temperature you've got going inside, so one of those "oven rack" thermometers is great. More importantly, the chicken isn't really done after a fixed amount of time...it's done when the bird reaches an internal temperature of at least 170-180F (77-83C). (Many books will tell you 180-190F/83-87C to be safe.) With some experience, you can gauge this by eye, but the best way to learn what a fully-cooked bird looks like in the first place is by using an internal meat thermometer. Considering that thermometers cost about $3 a pop, don't hesitate to pick one up.
(See, I told you this was going to get pedantic.)
N.B. Like any technique that's going to uniformly cook a piece of food this thick, this really involves roasting the chicken in a closed space (over an indirect fire), and not actually grilling it over an open flame. (If the fire were cooking the chicken directly, you would end up with a bird that's totally charred on the outside, but still almost cold and raw on the inside.) Make sure you've got an appropriate roasting environment before you bother trying this--a grill on which you can maintain a controllable temperature, through indirect heat, for an extended period of time, with a lid that's high enough to close over a standing bird. If you've got a decent-sized gas grill, or one of the larger Weber charcoal grills, you should be just fine. At the moment, I've got one of those black Weber "Genesis" gas grills that everyone is selling, and it works great, but just about any moderately-sized grill should work. If you've got a small, shallow grill, or no grill at all, you'd be better off trying this in the oven. As long as your oven can hold a standing chicken, with the shelf at the lowest level, you should be able to stand the chicken in a deep pan and follow the rest of the directions. You won't end up with the yummy flame-kissed flavor of the grill, but it should still be a damn fine chicken.
Step 3) Prep the beer can
Get a can of beer, and rinse and wash the outside thoroughly before you open it. I've found that those little Heineken "keg cans" are perfect--not only does their angled shape make them easier to get in and out of the bird, but they're also mostly unpainted. (That's the only reservation I've ever heard about this technique--the potential toxicity of putting a painted can over the fire. Personally, I've never smelled or tasted anything that would make me worry, but it is something you want to be conscious of. Somebody's going to bring it up.) Open the can, drink about half the beer, and then open up the top more by either punching holes with a can opener, or using a cheap knife to cut some radial slots and bend the metal down. (If you're using a big bird--like 6lbs or more--then you can use one of the larger "oil-can" size Heineken kegs. The bigger cans work really well with a larger bird, and you can use a rolling can-opener on them like a can of tuna fish to take the lid clean off.)
Throw a handful of rub into the beer that's left in the can. Crack open another can of beer, because you're the goddamn chef, and you deserve it, dammit.

Step 4) Prep the bird
Trim excess fat and skin off the whole bird, and rinse it thoroughly inside and out in the sink. Get the bird as dry as possible using paper towels, especially inside, since if there's a lot of moisture left in the nooks and crannies, it'll run out and rinse off the rub.

Step 5) Coat the bird
Put the chicken into the big bowl, and get the dry rub all over it, inside and out. You want to get as thick and as even a coating as possible...in the armpit, down the neck, all over. Do this when you're just about ready to go--if you do it too far in advance, the rub will start to take up moisture and get all runny, and it'll just start sliding off when you prop the chicken up on the grill.
Take the bowl with the chicken in it and the prepped can out to the grill. (Then go back inside and get yourself another beer--it's hot outside, and you're about to start standing over a friggin' fire.)

Step 6) Mount the bird
At the grill, put a couple fingers down the neck of the bird (that's the little hole), pick up the bird so the drumsticks are pointing down, and stick the prepped can up its tuchus. (That's a technical term, from Escoffier. It means the big hole.) Quickly put the bird on the grill, so that it's standing up, like in that old Sledgehammer video. Make sure the can is flat and solidly placed first, then work the drumsticks out wide as a tripod to get the chicken as stable as possible. It may help to use a spatula to help hold the can up inside the bird's cavity until it's situated.

Step 7) Cook the bird
The chicken should cook at an oven temperature of around 350 degrees, and again, over indirect heat, if possible. It usually takes a couple of hours, depending on the size of the bird, and whether you're cooking two at once, etc.
This is where the gas-grill heretics have a real edge--say what you like about the flavor advantages of charcoal over gas, it's no mean feat to keep a charcoal fire going at a reasonably constant, controlled temperature for hours without spending a ton of money on the grill itself. Nevertheless, it is doable, especially if you're using real wood charcoal instead of cheap-ass briquets. (Don't even talk to me about those "Everything tastes like lighter fluid!" MatchLight obscenities.)
Send the older boy in on a regular basis for more beer, and regale your companions with ribald tales of youth while your SO rolls his/her/its eyes.

Step 8) Glaze the bird
When there's about 30 min left to go, mix a cup or so of honey with about a quarter-cup of balsamic vinegar. (The cheap supermarket kind of balsamic vinegar, not the real stuff that costs like $50 a bottle.) Use a spoon to ladle the honey mixture completely over the chicken, glazing it as completely as possible.
Here, again, you've actually got a lot of leeway. Instead of going for a honey-type glaze, you can go for an olive-oil/herb-type dressing approach, or use a more traditional tomato-based sauce (although they tend to burn more easily). Soy/teriyaki-based sauces work great, too. Whatever you do choose, please, just make sure it's home-made, OK? None of that store-bought stuff. Unless you're worried about the condition of the grill (see below), you do want to do something to add moisture back to the outer layer of the chicken. The inside's getting very nicely steamed by the beer, and ladling some kind of wet application to the outside helps the areas that are more exposed to the heat keep up.
How do you know when there are 30 minutes left? That's a very good question. Basically, if you've been cooking the chicken at a solid 350F/175C for about 90 mins, you're in the neighborhood. If you've got a thermometer, you can check the bird, and the internal temperature will be around 160F/71C, climbing towards 170F/77C. If you've cooked a lot of chicken, it's at that point where the skin is just losing that fatty pallid white color, and is going over the edge from yellow to brown.
When you're glazing the bird, don't use a brush...use a spoon. A brush is going to just wipe off the dry rub--you want to use stroke the edge of a tablespoon horizontally across the bird's skin, and let the glaze or sauce run down and cover the bird as completely as possible, in all the nooks and crannies.
It's time to switch to wine, at this point, don't you think? This is going to be a pretty flavorful dish, so I usually prefer either a robust white like a Sauvignon Blanc, or even a good, tasty red. My personal, current favorite right now is still Bogle Vineyards' Petite Syrah, which is delicious, and a real bargain. Even if you never make this recipe, try that wine. I've been drinking it all summer.

Step 9) Make sure the bird is done
Technically, the chicken's done when a meat thermometer that's stuck deep inside without touching the bone reads at least 180 degrees, but basically, if it looks like the meat--especially the breast at the top, near the neck--is starting to pull away from the bone, it'll be fine, even if you don't have a thermometer. (If you get a chicken that's got one of those little pop-thingies on it, it'll pop when the chicken's still 170F/77C inside, or even less. You might want to cook it a little bit longer, since I don't know if I trust that little plastic bit over a flame, but you're probably safe from that point on.) The chicken will probably look blackened all over by the time it's ready, but that's because of the glaze, not because the bird's burnt. The skin will still taste awesome.
If you're not sure, that's where this specific technique comes to your rescue. The steam from the beer can keeps the inside of the bird so moist that it's alright to leave it on a little too long. You might even like it better that way--the outside meat's going to be really crispy, but the breast meat and all the rest of the bird is still going to be very, very moist, so you don't have to risk having too rare a bird.
The most important thing you'll want to start to experiment with, once you master your grill, is temperature over time. The "straight 350F/175F" approach I'm describing here works just fine, and you should really just stick with it the first time, or if you have a hard enough time keeping a constant temp. If you start a bit higher (400F/205C), though, for about 20-30mins, kick it down to 350F/175C for the main stretch, and then modulate it down to 325F/165C or so after you glaze it, it may take a little longer, but you're more likely to have a crisp, outer skin, that isn't as charcoal-burnt when you're done. I wouldn't start playing with that until you've done this successfully a couple of times, though, and I still often don't bother.

Step 10) Remove the chicken, and carve it
To take the chicken off the grill, you're probably going to have to use a spatula to chip the drumsticks off the grate, since the honey glaze will have welded them there. Once you've broken them free, use some tongs to pick up the bird and a spatula to lift the can with it, all as one unit. Put it aside and let it cool, still standing on the can, for a couple of minutes.
If the can doesn't slide out on its own when you lift the chicken again, use the handle of a wooden spoon, and slide it into the neck from the top. Get the spoon handle pushed against the bottom of the can to hold it down against the board, and you should be able to use the tongs to slide the chicken up enough to get it off the can. Once it's off the can, let it cool some more on its side, for a total of about 10 minutes, before you carve it--it'll stay much moister that way.
(Last pedantic note...if you hadn't heard this before, you always want to do this with meat before you carve it. The meat has been in an environment that's 350F/175C or more, maybe for hours, and much of the internal moisture is going to be above 212F/100C degrees. Cutting the bird open right away allows most of that great moisture to escape as steam--it's like popping a balloon. Ideally, you don't want to poke, prod, pierce, cut or otherwise break the surface of a piece of cooked meat at all, if possible, until it's had a chance to cool internally. Use tongs, not a fork, to turn a steak and then take it off the grill, and learn to judge "doneness" by touch, rather than cutting it open to look and see.)

I won't go into detail on how to carve a bird, since there's no single best way, and it's something you really learn by doing--just use a good, sharp knife, with a blade that's not too wide front to back, and follow the contour of the bone.

Kick back, relax and enjoy. You'll almost certainly find that the dark meat and the light meat are both almost perfect--cooked all the way through, but still really juicy. Anyone who's taken it as a culinary challenge to learn how to roast an excellent chicken can tell you--that's no small accomplishment. Any technique that makes it happen consistently is a real find.
It's also a very, very lean way to cook chicken, since most of the fat runs down off the chicken as it's cooking. You're basically using the same technique as all those "low-fat standing chicken roasters" everyone was pushing a couple of years ago. The best part, to many people, is the skin--not only is it incredibly flavorful, because of the rub and the glaze, but it's also about as lean as skin's going to get, so you can actually indulge yourself a bit without feeling like you're eating raw bacon.

After dinner, stretch out on the patio with a nice single malt, like Glenmorangie (the most popular single-malt in Scotland, and for good reason). Bask in the glow of a meal well-cooked. Try to get someone else to do the dishes.


There you go! The only thing to be careful of about this recipe is that the honey glaze really turns into a lot of charcoal on the grill, and can be kind of a mess to clean up. If it's not your grill, or if you're wary of making a mess on your own, you might want to skip that step and just stick with the rub.

I hope, that if you've bothered to read this far, that you found this informative and enjoyable, and that it inspires you to try it yourself. One great thing about this is that it's really more a "technique" than a "recipe", which means that it lends itself to an almost infinite number of variations. Try it a couple of times, master the technique, and then every chicken you cook this way will be different, and delicious. If you didn't like this, and you're still reading it, then what the F#%K are you thinking?

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Poll
Roasting chicken...
o About as exciting as boiling water 27%
o Something you do when you don't feel like "really cooking" 4%
o An enjoyable standard 11%
o A good meal at a great price 37%
o One of the great culinary challenges 18%

Votes: 43
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o This guy
o cooking paraphernalia
o Esquire
o on the Internet
o Escoffier
o Bogle Vineyards' Petite Syrah
o Glenmorang ie
o Also by LairBob


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"Beer Can Chicken": Sure, it's cheesy, but it works | 92 comments (65 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
Sounds good (none / 0) (#4)
by The Solitaire on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:15:54 PM EST

Other than the dry rub you suggest... A full cup of sugar, plus a honey glaze for one chicken? Not so sure about that; seems to me that it would be awfully sweet. Then again I have a natural aversion to "sweet" and "meat" together. I'm assuming that the chocolate powder was a joke... Somehow chocolate sauce and chicken don't go together for me. :)

Other than that, sounds like a great technique to try out. Next time I have a craving for chicken, I'll give some variation on this a try. +1 FP

I need a new sig.

I'm not joking--the fire makes everything OK (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by LairBob on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:23:50 PM EST

I can totally see what you mean, but in this case, with prolonged exposure over an open flame, the sugar and honey caramelize into something a lot more savory than you'd initially expect. Especially if you want to crank up the heat ratio with different varieties of pepper, it provides a nice balance and rounds out the taste.

As far as chocolate goes, I haven't tried that myself yet, but I wasn't really joking. Even for a more savory dry rub, where you dial back the sugar, etc, I've found that cinnamon and nutmeg are real "secret ingredients"--used judiciously, you can't recognize them as specific tastes, but they really add a great dimension to the flavor that makes a big difference. (I've always found that real "secret ingredients" are counter-intuitive choices like that.)

[ Parent ]
Couldn't Agree more (5.00 / 1) (#11)
by The Solitaire on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 10:06:33 PM EST

I love using cinnamon and nutmeg in my cooking. Another one, which raised a lot of eyebrows from my friends and family at first, is allspice. It's the key ingredient in one of my favourite sauces - Jamaican Jerk Sauce. I guess my initial aversion to the chocolate was really the combination of that and the high sugar levels. This led immediately to the image of "Chocolate sauce on steak", which I often use to try and explain my aversion to sweetness and meat in combination. I've been trying hard, though, to overcome that aversion. I've gotten as far as using small amounts of brown sugar in meat recipes, but I've gotta take it slowly. :)

To give another interesting example of "counter-intuitive" foods, there is a gelato place (La Casa Gelato [warning bad music]) in my home town of Vancouver that specializes in "exotic" gelato flavours (they have over 488 flavours). I've tried some really odd ones, with mixed results. For example, roasted garlic was bad. Curry was excellent (lends itself marvelously to icecream), and Vegemite was actually not that bad (certainly a lot better than I expected). Others include Kimchi, durian, and Wasabi (never tried kimchi gelato, but the other two are reasonably good).

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Allspice rocks. (none / 0) (#46)
by randyk on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:56:32 PM EST

It is the most quintessential ingredient to Cincinnati-style chili, a sweet but not hot1 chili typically served over pasta and topped with cheese, and optionally onions and/or kidney beans.

I'd give you a recipe, but I improvise when I make it, so I can't give you proportions. It's about the only decent cuisine to come out of the Mid-West.2 Perhaps I'll make it this weekend, pay a little more attention to quantities, and post it here next week.

1 It is caliente hot (temperature hot) but not picoso hot (spicy hot), to use the useful Spanish distinction.

2 It's not even really originally from there, but Cincinnati is the locus of its current seat of popularity in the United States.



[ Parent ]
You cook the same way I do (none / 0) (#67)
by The Solitaire on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:13:27 PM EST

I'm constantly telling people that I would give them the recipe, if only I could remember what it was that I've done.

As for the chili, is the lack of spice a necessity? Or is it really part of what it is to be Cincinnati chili? I love spicy food :) Even if it is a necessity, though, I'd love to see the recipe! K5 needs more cooking stories.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

That's the irony of a "recipe" from me (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by LairBob on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:05:02 PM EST

I've always found that there are two basic types of cook--the kind that has to use a recipe to create a controllable, repeatable result, and the kind that just throws open the pantry and says, "Hmmm, what've we got?"

I've always been firmly in the latter camp--I can get retentively focused on the technique that's required to generate an effect, but even as I'm eating something I've just made, if you ask me "What's in it?", I have no real idea. ("Umm...Peanut butter. And whiskey. And I used what was left of the wasabe, I think--at least, it was green, and it tasted like it would go well.")

That's why I can't share recipes with my friends, only "techniques". I like that, because it still leaves the final credit for any good dinner where it belongs, with the actual cook. I can try and save you from the learning curve and make sure you don't screw it up, but only you can make it taste good.

[ Parent ]
If anyone reading comes to visit Vancouver... (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by Alannon on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:13:09 PM EST

Try that place!
It's not just a place where the novelty is in the huge variety.  The quality of the gelato is excellent!  In fact, usually when I go, I'll have a spoon or two of something 'interesting' and then leave with a scoop of something fairly mundane, simply because the classics taste so good there.
My opinions on a few flavours there:
Beer: bad
Root Beer, Coka Cola: excellent
Cranberry Vodka: good
Lavender: good!

Because they get such huge volume there, they can afford to have fairly slim profit margins and thus uses high-quality ingredients.  In fact, the owner once confided that he loses money on the no-sugar-added bittersweet chocolate.

[ Parent ]

chocolate (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by Work on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:36:38 PM EST

chocolate (or more accurately, cocoa) when used right, can make a decent spice in many things. typically as a bitter earthy accent.

[ Parent ]
Possibly (none / 0) (#9)
by The Solitaire on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:49:23 PM EST

Now that I think about it, you might be right. I'll have to give it a try at some point and see how things turn out. :)

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Mole (5.00 / 1) (#84)
by jburst on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 04:54:29 PM EST

I'm assuming that the chocolate powder was a joke... Somehow chocolate sauce and chicken don't go together for me.
You've never had a good Chicken Mole, have you?

[ Parent ]
Grinding Spices (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by The Solitaire on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:23:47 PM EST

I've had a lot of success buying all of my spices whole and grinding them using a coffee grinder. Aside from the improved flavour, this has the added advantage that your spices keep for a lot longer as well. I make a lot of curries, and this works well for all of the whole dry spices such as cumin, coriander, allspice, anise, etc.

It won't work so well for fresh garlic (which would clot up your dry rub anyways), however. I've been toying with the idea of buying a "food dehydrator" for drying my own garlic, ginger, chilies and so on; any one have experience with this? I know when I dried (by hanging) my own cheyenne peppers, I got the best damn cheyenne pepper I've ever tasted.

I need a new sig.

This is chunks of dried garlic, in a plastic mill (none / 0) (#7)
by LairBob on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:29:52 PM EST

That's what makes these little plastic mills so great--fresh-ground is always better than powdered. (The garlic is just pieces of real garlic, that have been dried so they process through the mill into a powder.) You can find dried mushrooms, red pepper flakes, and a whole bunch of others. (The salt and pepper, I find, are both too "tough" for the disposal mill blades, and you tend to end up with a useless mill that's half-full.)

I've got to say, regrettably, that I'm not talking about the Oxo spice mill sets, where you've got a milling top that you swap around between different little jars. I've found that to be a total pain-in-the-neck, with spices spilling out all over as you pop the mill and the little plastic tops off. The Oxo stuff is much more expensive--I really like the little plastic spice mills you can find for $2 in the supermarket aisle.

[ Parent ]
Pepper Mills (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by The Solitaire on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:55:25 PM EST

Pepper is such a unbiquitous spice that it makes good sense to have a decent pepper mill around anyways. Don't cheap out when you're buying one, since with a crappy one (much like the disposables, I imagine) you get very little pepper throughput, and little ability to vary the grind. I heartily reccomend a pepper mill by Peugot - they're not cheap, around $50-100 Canadian, but well worth the price. With mine, a $60 model, I can grind anywhere from ultra-fine to really coarse (cracked really), and I don't get a sore arm from twisting for hours to get a reasonable amount.

That being said, if I needed as much as a half cup, I would use the coffee grinder method, if I wanted a fine grind, or a mortar and pestle for a coarse grind.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Divine (none / 0) (#51)
by andamac on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:20:47 AM EST

After being so frustrated by the shoddy pepper mill I had been using that I threatened to steal my mothers on a visit home, she bought me a Peugot.

The sheer volume of pepper issuing from each crank nearly made me weep with joy, and to this day I tear up at the sight of a snow-like shower of the fine grind falling gently over a delicate dish.

[ Parent ]

Now I know what I want for my birthday... (nt) (none / 0) (#56)
by LairBob on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:49:38 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Fresh Garlic (none / 0) (#28)
by lonesmurf on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 07:18:44 AM EST

I've actually found that a lot of the pleasant taste of garlic comes from the sweet taste of the fresh garlic.. something which gets lost when you dry it. I figure that it lasts so long anyway, there's no real reason to dry/grind it up. You wouldn't use powdered/dried onions would you??

Rami

I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.


[ Parent ]
Dried Garlic (none / 0) (#34)
by The Solitaire on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:54:49 AM EST

Actually, I would use dried onions in certain circumstances. If you try to make a dry-rub with fresh (read wet) garlic or onion, it will turn the dry-rub into a clotted mass that won't stick to the meat. Another place where powdered ingredients work better is with things like cheyenne pepper. It's not always the case that you want chunks of pepper in your dish, and pureeing them well enough can sometimes be difficult (though a good food processor goes a long way in this regard).

That being said, I agree that the best ingredients are fresh, not dried; and in any application where they are appropriate I use them..

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Dried Garlic... (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by tarpy on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:54:02 PM EST

makes the Baby Jesus cry.

As a former resident of the Garlic Capital of the World I learned that fresher is better. And damn, I was able to get some same-day-in-the-field fresh stuff at the Christopher Ranch Company Store.

On and yes, the Garlic Festival kicked ass.


Sir, this is old skool. Old skool. I salute you! - Knot In The Face
[ Parent ]

Hehe (none / 0) (#66)
by The Solitaire on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:09:33 PM EST

Good thing I;m an atheist then :)

But seriously... I can't begin to emphasize how much I agree with you. It's just for certain applications it just won't work. Now that I think about it, though, even in the case you do need to use it, I figure it's better to buy fresh then dry it yourself. At least that way you know that it hasn't been sitting around forever.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

be still my children (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by garlic on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:38:04 PM EST

For I am with thee, and tasty in all my forms. Yeah, though these forms may be dry or fresh or pickled, yet I still am tasty. And e'en though I may be roasted or diced or crushed, I am still tasty.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

BTW (none / 0) (#69)
by ph317 on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:15:52 PM EST


For anyone reading that comment and trying it themselves, don't forget that for some whole spices like coriander, you're supposed to cook the spice a little in a certain way before you grind it or it won't taste "right".  I haven't done much of this, but I had to do it for coriander once and I think I had to fry the coriander in a frying pan until it changed color first or something.

[ Parent ]
Coriander (none / 0) (#70)
by The Solitaire on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 03:59:02 PM EST

You're right about that... though I haven't heard that it had to be before you grind the spice. I know that frying spices (not just coriander) releases a lot of the flavour and smell. However, frying them before grinding seems to me like it would make a gummy mess (since you typically fry in oil or butter).

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Roasting spices (none / 0) (#83)
by yogger on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:02:42 PM EST

I've roasted cumin seed before.  The way I did it was heat up a six inch cast iron skillet to medium/medium high.  Make sure its nice and hot.  Then just add the seeds and toss them every now and then to make sure they get an even brown color, should only take a few minutes.  I've never added oil and think you probably would end up with a mess more than something tasty.

You are supposed to be able to store the result for about six months before losing flavor, but I've kept them for longer without a problem

The is only a test .sig
If it were a real .sig it would contain useful and/or funny information
[ Parent ]

aluminum (none / 0) (#19)
by Suppafly on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 11:29:25 PM EST

considering that aluminum poisoning is.. well bad for you, i don't think i'll be stuffing my fowl with it anytime soon.
---
Playstation Sucks.
I'd worry about the paint, first ;) (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by LairBob on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 12:36:22 AM EST

I'm not going to argue with you on that one, but we all decide where we're willing to take our negligible risks. Most aluminum cans nowadays--even the "unpainted" Heineken ones--are coated, so I don't think that the chicken really comes into contact with aluminum, like it does in aluminum cookware, where they found that it might contribute to Alzheimer's, etc.

Now, what that coating does, under exposure to an open flame, you might honestly think twice about. After a fair amount of interest and investigation, it doesn't look, to me, like it's actually coming off, at least in any great amounts. My wife--who tends to be very wary of that kind of stuff, especially when it comes to our two little kids--has also come to feel that it's probably one of the minor sources of toxicity in our lives, all things considered. So, while we don't make a point of roasting chemicals over a fire, we cook a beer-can chicken a few times a year, and figure we're alright.

[ Parent ]
Oh, I was going to ask just that... (none / 0) (#36)
by laotic on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:01:13 AM EST

I remember we had many kitchen utensils made of untreated aluminium. That's past now, and the glass-topped electric stove I've got does not work with aluminium bottomed pans anyway - the metal just burns to the glass, literally leaves molten stains.

I would guess this is because the glass heats to really high temps. Have you tried burning an aluminium can to see at what temperature it starts to oxidize/deform/melt/whatever? The melting point of 660 deg C is way higher than the 220oC you suggest, but there could be some heat buildup...

Plus, prolonged presence inside the chicken might oxidize the aluminium and/or embed it in the dry rub.

Anyway, not having a grill or a garden to try this recipe in, I might give it a try in the oven after some modifications. Any suggestions anyone?

Sig? Sigh.
[ Parent ]
that study was from what I heard bad science (4.00 / 1) (#80)
by duckl07 on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 10:26:08 AM EST

I do not have sources for this, but a friend of mine who is a docter assured me that this was bogus. Apparently the studies used aluminum apparatus that created a spike in aluminum presence that should have been discounted. Obviousy, I forget the details of what they were looking for, but the finding of high aluminum content, which was the finding that made the link to Altemizers (sic), was experimental error.

anybody who actually has more details on this feel free to discount me. I simply trust that the person who told me this knows what she is talking about.

Plus, I thought even if Aluminum causes issues that it needs an acid (like citric acid in tomatoes) to get into the food.

[ Parent ]

Grill alternative? (none / 0) (#33)
by vnsnes on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:44:51 AM EST

Do you think this would work on stove top?

I have a heavy cast iron skillet that covers 2 burners that I successfully seared steak on as described in this K5 write-up.

What makes me think that it may work is that you don't cover the grill, which means that most of the heat is generated from the can and beer vapor.

What do you think?

You do need to cover the grill (none / 0) (#35)
by LairBob on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:57:01 AM EST

Sorry if that wasn't clear enough--I'll try and word that more emphatically. With this technique, you're basically roasting the chicken over an indirect, open flame, in a closed box. If you were going to try this, an oven might actually work pretty well, provided you put the chicken in a deep pan, and the oven was large enough to hold the chicken standing up.

[ Parent ]
Short version (none / 0) (#38)
by vnsnes on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:20:23 AM EST

Maybe you can say, "cover grill" in the short version. I got excited too fast and posted without reading the long version where you do say, "with lid down".

Thanks for the write-up! I'm thinking I may give this a shot this weekend. +1 from me.

[ Parent ]

the beer can bastes the chiken form the inside, (none / 0) (#82)
by Lil Commie on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 04:49:33 PM EST

this is not what is used to cook the chiken, purely to keep it moist. i wonder if the beer has a tenderizing effect though. i have tryed beer can chiken useing only the beer can with some apple juce in it... it was good but you do not acheve the same rusult as with beer. ps. my cooking methiod of choie is a convection oven. it cooks faster and everything stays moist.

[ Parent ]
What? (none / 0) (#39)
by wiredog on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:35:25 AM EST

Ending up with a chicken where the white meat and dark meat are both thoroughly cooked, but they're both moist, and the dark meat's not greasy while the white meat isn't dry, is no simple thing.
It's absurdly simple. Take a look at Julia Child's recipie from "Mastering the Art..." . You've just got to turn and baste the bird.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

Yes and no... (none / 0) (#40)
by LairBob on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:12:05 AM EST

I've used Julia's techniques, Jacques' techniques, the Cook's Illustrated technique--they all work, too, but "just turning and basting" doesn't automatically guarantee a well-roasted chicken. Even with the simplest technique, making it a repeatable and predictable process takes experience. Personally, I find her technique works great, too--it's what I use for turkey, too. There are still plenty of home cooks following her technique, or any other, though, and still ending up with dry white meat and slippery dark meat.

The NY Times didn't pull "Roasting the Perfect Chicken" (reg. req.) out of a hat to kick off its entire series of cooking lessons, and when judging the quality of a French bistro, the quality of their roast chicken is almost the measure that's used. If it really was "absurdly simple", it wouldn't have become such a central yardstick, used by food professionals, to judge core cooking skill.

[ Parent ]
Chicken in a bag (none / 0) (#41)
by HidingMyName on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:17:51 AM EST

Roast the chicken in a paper bag. Its worked well for me in the past (although I seldom roast chicken these days).

[ Parent ]
Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by andamac on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:57:06 AM EST

I always do it like this:
Heat oven to 400, melt some butter and spices of your choice in a saucpan, position chicken in roasting rack over a pan, pour in enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan, dribble/rub buttery goodness all over the chicken sprinkle on a few more spices if you like, and chuck in the oven until it is done.

It's never failed me.

Some will actually say that opening the over door repeatedly to baste/turn is actually detrimental to the cooking process, as it causes a great variation in the cooking temperature.

[ Parent ]

Dry rub suggestion (4.50 / 2) (#42)
by equilibrist on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:59:56 AM EST

Good <verbose> article. I too know this recipe as "Beer Butt Chicken". I'm a little leery of the sugar in the dry rub but I'll try it the next time I do a chicken.

Here's a tip for getting good dry rub coverage that I use all the time.

Coat the meat with mustard before adding the rub. The mustard will bond the rub to the meat and helps form a delicious uniform crust. By the time cooking is finished there is no flavor of the mustard, just the rub and glaze. Use the cheapest salad mustard from the store and don't be shy; get those bare hands in the jar and on the bird.

Great idea--I'll try that (none / 0) (#43)
by LairBob on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:35:54 AM EST

That could work out really well--I hadn't really experimented with a "bonding agent" for the rub, but it might do the trick.

Regarding the sugar, as I pointed out in another comment--it seems like a lot, but after it caramelizes and blends with the other spices you use, it really becomes a much more savory component than you'd maybe expect. But, more importantly, it's totally up to you. Those are my recommendations, but feel free to use just about any variation or alternative that you want...just make sure you've got enough "base" to make a lot of dry rub.

(And finally, as far as the article's length...don't say I didn't warn you ;) )

[ Parent ]
Ah yes the right scotch is essential (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by nadreck on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 05:35:43 PM EST

The sixteen men of Tain sure know there stuff. The 18 year old is incredibly mellow for the number of years it spends in an oak cask.


Nadreck of Palain VII (ok, ok, really Jim Grant of Yellowknife)

Talisker... (none / 0) (#55)
by gordonjcp on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 05:23:52 AM EST

My local brew, and a fine single malt it is. It's not an "entry level" single malt, though. Pretty hardcore stuff. If you like those fairly delicate, almost sweet, blended whiskies, you'll hate it.
I like a good Islay single malt too, though. I was at a wedding there a couple of years ago - big wedding, too - and there was whisky that you just can't buy. Stuff that's been sitting for a long time, that you only get if you know the right people. My *ghod* that was a fine drop.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Just don't want to be able to start my car with it (none / 0) (#57)
by LairBob on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:35:05 AM EST

I love Glenmorangie because it's just got a clear, almost buttery taste. Admittedly, it's almost a perfect "entry-level" single-malt--I've gotten several people to understand "what all the fuss is about" with single malts by getting them to try GM, even just the normal 10-yr. (Most folks here in the US, when they think of Scotch, aren't even thinking of a single malt--they think of a continuously-distilled, blended grain alcohol. If they've ever had a single malt, it's often from a chest-thumping buddy who has them start with Lagavulin or Laphroiag.)

I can, when in the proper frame of mind, appreciate the complexities of the more "challenging" malts, like Talisker, but I have a hard time going into the peaty, oily Laphroiag/Lowland end of the spectrum and really enjoying it. I've got a bottle of Glen Ord 12-yr sitting in my cabinet, which declares its Northern Highland clarity right up front, with its region and the motto "I shine, not burn" written across it.

As with most things, though, you're right--the real finds are off the general market. A friend of mine, who has the great fortune to work for a major Scotch label here in the US, just got back from Scotland, and said that all the best scotches he had there don't even have names. It's just some family or small outfit with a still.

[ Parent ]
The really good stuff... (none / 0) (#58)
by gordonjcp on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:56:49 AM EST

... is the "experimental" batches made up in distilleries testing new malt, new kit, or new techniques. Sometimes it can be pretty horrible stuff, but a lot of the time it's beautiful hand-made short-run stuff. Can't sell it, so it lives in casks for a very long time before being taken out for very special occasions.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


[ Parent ]
Sure (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by A Proud American on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:01:23 PM EST

Ya know, rubber dolls are simple and they "work", but I wouldn't want to come home to one every night.

Just a thought.

____________________________
The weak are killed and eaten...


personal attack (none / 0) (#63)
by rickmccl on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:35:05 PM EST

Explain yourself, you don't make sense.


[ Parent ]
Next up on Redneck living: (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by Fredrick Doulton on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:36:13 PM EST

Oil drum smoked salmon.

=D

Bush/Cheney 2004! - "Because we've still got more people to kill"

It's like "Biker Billy cooks with fire" (5.00 / 2) (#50)
by LairBob on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:06:02 PM EST

I can't cook this without my wife saying at least once, "Cletus, fetch Momma's pry bar! I gotta git off the couch agin!"

[ Parent ]
Thats not redneck (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by REdOG on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:42:03 PM EST

A redneck recipe equiv, is "Drunk ass chicken"
Ya see were a bit more clever than that, pfft beer can chicken.

Ya get it yet yankee?

[ Parent ]

Yeah... (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by The Solitaire on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:14:47 PM EST

...lots of rednecks drinking Heinicken these days, I hear. :)

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

real wood charcoal (4.50 / 2) (#59)
by ethereal on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:04:00 PM EST

The real wood charcoal is a lot better than "charcoal briquets", and in some cases it's actually cheaper. The only down side is that it will tend to burn up a little faster, so you have to replenish the grill a little more often. But it's worth it to lose that gas-station smell in your food.

For a totally chemical-free existence, get one of those grill chimneys. You put the real charcoal in the top section, crumple up one sheet of newspaper in the bottom section, set it on the grill, and light the newspaper through the holes in the bottom section. No lighter fluid required; the natural "drawing" action of the chimney will get things going. It does take a little more time than using lighter fluid, but you can use the time to get the meat ready, or to drink your beer.

Interesting history: where did briquets actually come from? Apparently Henry Ford had some leftover sawdust from the Model T assembly line (back when cars were made out of wood), and needed something to do with it. Toss in some petroleum binders and there you have it.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

I've found wood to last longer... (none / 0) (#60)
by LairBob on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:13:38 PM EST

Maybe it's because I've never been exposed to any kind of briquettes other than that ubiquitous stuff in the blue & white bags (whose name I can't remember), but in my experience, they haven't tended to stay in the real "heat" zone very long. (The Matchlights last, like, 2 mins, and then they're just ash.)

A friend of mine's dad had a chimney, and used real charcoal, and it really does make a huge difference. No lighter fluid, and by the time you start cooking, the charcoal is generating an even heat that it'll sustain for a pretty long time.

[ Parent ]
chimney (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by rickmccl on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:33:44 PM EST

chimney == large coffee can with both ends cut off. I've used this, even with lighter fluid, for years. Just need a pair of pliers as it doesn't have a pretty handle riveted to it.


[ Parent ]
good point that I forgot to mention (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by ethereal on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:52:28 PM EST

The real wood will burn hotter, which is good. It may be that the brand that I am getting tends to have smaller pieces, which burn up quicker.

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

That would explain it (none / 0) (#74)
by LairBob on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:54:52 PM EST

The wood charcoal I've seen used was much bigger than standard briquettes, and lasted much longer, too--big chunks of charcoaled wood anywhere from 2 to 6 inches long. No idea where he got it, though.

[ Parent ]
Best. Chicken. Ever. (5.00 / 4) (#61)
by rickmccl on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:31:13 PM EST

Notes on my Beer Chicken Technique, or "My Drunken Chicken Kung Fu will leave you drooling!"

I saw this on a Food TV show about "Barbecue Boot Camp", I had to tivo-pause it and go get some note paper. My family loves this chicken. I would make it for the queen of england. Or the king of town.

Aluminum / paint worry warts: The can does not get hot enough for that, it is insulated by the chicken and cooled by the beer inside.

I do this on a gas grill, it is not large enough to stand a chicken on the cooking grate so I take that out, push the lava rocks to one side, and put the chicken down there on the other. I dunno how hot it gets but I leave the one burner on high and a 5-7 pound chicken (what, 3-15 kilos? ;) gets cooked in 1.5 to 2 hours (90-120 metric minutes ;-P)

Rub: 4/4 rub: Salt, Pepper, Brown Sugar, Paprika.
I have used "Old Bay" instead, if you have some of that around. it is a little spicier. Wash the chicken and then give it a rubdown with olive oil, then rub the rub on that. 1/2 hour into cooking it will start looking crispy critter on top, so give it a little foil tent, an aluminum hat to ward off the mindless control heat rays.

You could do this in an oven, I think, but I grill even when the snow is coming down so I've never tried.

Yeah, plastic pop-outs really suck eggs. If you're not sure if the chicken is done, cook it a little more. Another half hour will probably not hurt it one bit, it is being steamed from the inside out so it won't dry.

Finally, I would like to say, "Miller. Genuine. Draft." for the cheap alternative as I dislike wine and think that the plastic inserts in the Guinness or Boddington's can could get melty.

Do try the chicken-jitsu, it's for real.


write in poll vote (none / 0) (#71)
by auraslip on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 04:21:00 PM EST

crazy tree hugging vegitarian
___-___
Easy approach for cooking chicken (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by skim123 on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 08:55:33 PM EST

Get one of those Rotissery Grills as SEEN ON TV, they cost under $100 for the Jr. version, which can do up to a 10 pound bird. Then, just put a chicken in, set it for a couple hours, and take it off once the whole house starts to smell really good. Very juicy chicken with crisp skin. Highly recommended.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Write in vote: (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by ClassicG on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 07:20:34 AM EST

"Something really good but best left for somebody else to make"

I have fiun with my own experence that the bird is (none / 0) (#81)
by Lil Commie on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 04:42:20 PM EST

done when you can slice the skin on the inside of the drunstick and the juces run clear.

This worked out pretty good (none / 0) (#85)
by Edgy Loner on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 08:58:13 PM EST

Just finished my Sunday dinner with it. I think my grill was a bit too hot, it finished up inside of an hour, and a little overdone. I'll have to drop the temperature a bit next time. The skin was getting a little charred so I skipped the glazing as well. Fucking good chicken though. It just fell apart, was moist and had good flavor.

Thanks for giving me the idea, man.

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.

My pleasure...enjoy (n/t) (none / 0) (#86)
by LairBob on Mon Aug 11, 2003 at 06:46:45 PM EST



[ Parent ]
a VERY flavorful twist (none / 0) (#87)
by el_guapo on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 06:22:15 PM EST

buy one of those disposable aluminum baking pans, layer soaked mesquite chips in it, and put it over the lit side of the grill. the bird steams from the inside out and smokes from the outside in. DAMN tasty!!!!
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
That's a great idea (none / 0) (#88)
by LairBob on Wed Aug 13, 2003 at 06:57:40 PM EST

I'll definitely try it next time.

[ Parent ]
This may be heresy (none / 0) (#89)
by epepke on Tue Aug 26, 2003 at 08:40:50 PM EST

However, lacking the usual large gas-powered grill, I followed the same procedure in the oven. It turned out great.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


I can't have beer. What do I do? (none / 0) (#90)
by craigd on Mon Sep 22, 2003 at 06:03:52 PM EST

There are chemicals in beer that my body has problems with. Is there a similar way of doing it that doesn't use any beer?


A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
Any flavorful beverage should work (none / 0) (#91)
by LairBob on Sun Sep 28, 2003 at 02:30:56 PM EST

I've heard of this done with Coke or Sprite (which isn't particularly appealing to me), but I'd imagine that lemon juice or orange juice would probably work well, with a lighter rub or treatment. Come to think of it, wine might even work nicely--just about anything that you'd marinate the chicken in, and is aromatic, should work.

[ Parent ]
Beer Can Turkey? (none / 0) (#92)
by nlscb on Mon Sep 29, 2003 at 11:34:49 AM EST

Is there any reason why this recipe couldn't be adapted to small turkey for Thanksgiving? Before I ruin my family's holiday, any advice would be appreciated

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

"Beer Can Chicken": Sure, it's cheesy, but it works | 92 comments (65 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
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