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Beer Can Chicken

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  • RUBulldog Nov 11, 2004 03:35 AM

I'm want to try this great way of grilling.

I have a charcoal Weber. They say indirect heat. Should I split the grill in half and put charcoal on one side and the chicken on the other? I've had good luck grill ribs and tri tip this way.

Or should I put the chicken in the middle, and charcoal around the outer edges?

Can I put some wood chips on top of the charcoals? If so what kind of wood? Hickory? Mesquite?

Also should I brush the chicken with barbeque sauce at any time during the grilling? I've put half a can of beer into regular store self barbque sauce and it gives everthing more of a kick.

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  1. I always bank the coals to one side, and put the meat on the other. Even though one side gets a little more radiant heat, the weber kettle does a really good job circulating the heat evenly around the meat. And, I read somethign to that effect in Cooks Illustrated this past summer as well. Plus banking the coals on one side makes it easier to adjust and fool with your heat maintenance.

    I don't think sauce is necessary. With a good rub, you really won't need it. I think it would just mask the other flavors you are really trying to achieve here...

    Definitely use wood chips or chunks. I prefer the latter, as they last longer and flare up less, which is especially key on indirect grilling. Just make sure you soak them really well first.

    As for the wood, I used to use mesquite. I liked it, but at the suggestions of others on this board, started using hickory, and like it much better. Mesquite was a little overpowering. Depending on how long you are cooking, it may not be a huge difference, but if you can find hickory, I'd recommend it. Although, with poultry, if you can find apple wood, you'll be even happier. It has a mild sweet, smokey flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: adamclyde

      Good suggestions, just one comment re the suggestion to soak the wood real well. Maybe I'm starting one of those thin vs thick pizza debates here, but if you look at several BBQ sites they will tell you it is not necessary to soak wood at all. In fact I saw on one site a photo of a piece of wood they soaked for several hours and there was only a very thin layer of moisture at the surface of the wood. I have done it both ways and see no difference when I do not soak the wood. Just trying to make things simpler for you.

    2. I suggest that you bank coals on both sides and put the chicken in the middle. I've done it this way with both my Weber and the gas grill (middle burners off, outside ones on) and it provides excellently even heat distribution for an even browning. Be sure to turn chicken 180 degres half way though cooking. The bird will be moist so no need for sauce for that purpose, but of course you'll sacrifice crisp skin if you sauce. I'd go with a rub. My suggestion for smoke is to use rosemary sprigs - the hint of rosemary flavor really compliments the chicken.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TomSwift

        If you're using fresh rosemary, make sure you harvest the sprigs from ABOVE the "dog zone"...

        1. re: ricepad

          Wise words. Do you speak from experience?

      2. Hi

        I've read about this method of cooking chicken, and it sounds great. However, I'm overseas for a couple months and have absolutely no access to a barbeque. Is there any way I could do this in an oven (I have a gas oven)? Or would that be sacrilege? Thanks.

        4 Replies
        1. re: kate

          I have heard that you can make beer can chicken in the oven. I guess I should try both. Can't always fire up the barbque but the oven is always there.

          1. re: kate

            Here's a recipe I adapted several years ago for beer-can chicken in a gas oven. It works! Enjoy!

            Beer Can Chicken

            Steve Raichler’s Barbecue Bible is often cited as the original source for this whimsical—not to say bizarre—treatment for a whole bird. But I’ve a feeling it originated under far more, well, informal circumstances. I’ve fine-tuned and adapted the recipe and the essential rub for the home oven.

            1 4-5 pound chicken
            2 1/2 tablespoons “Memphis Rub” (recipe follows), or your dry rub of choice
            1 12-ounce can of your favorite beer, at room temperature

            Rinse chicken inside and out and drain “standing up” on paper towels for 20 minutes.

            Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub inside the neck and around the body cavity, then massage another tablespoon all over the skin.

            Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

            Pop the tab on the beer can and, with a “church key,” make 6 or 7 additional holes in the top of the can. Drink the top inch of beer, then spoon the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of dry rub into the beer.

            Holding the chicken upright, push the bird down onto the beer can so that the can goes rather indelicately into the body cavity. Stand the chicken on the beer can on a heavy 1-2” deep roasting pan or cast iron skillet with the legs and the can forming a tripod. If it won’t work, buttress the legs with skewers.

            Roast the bird for about 20 minutes per pound, and for the last 15 minutes turn the heat up to 400 degrees for extra crispy skin. The bird is done when the thickest part of the thigh yields clear juice when pierced (technically 165-degree breast/180-degree thigh).

            Let stand 10 minutes before carving.

            Memphis Rub (adapted)

            2 tablespoons sweet paprika
            1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
            1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
            1 teaspoon salt
            1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
            1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
            1/2 teaspoon ground mace
            1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
            1 teaspoon garlic powder
            1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

            Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake well to combine. Makes about 1/4 cup.

            1. re: Tom Steele

              I made beercan chicken in the oven tonight, using your directions. I did, however, use a much simpler rub I found elsewhere (equal parts paprika, brown sugar and coarse salt, and a bit of black pepper), as I don't have a proper spice rack at the moment. And at someone else's reccomendation , I oiled the skin before massaging with the rub. The results were very pleasing, but next time I will try do two small birds - one using this method, and the other without, to have a side-by-side comparison. Thanks for all the advice.

            2. re: kate

              Making beer can chicken in the over is great. I just tried it today. Nice flavor, moist. I used a simple dry rub. Gas oven was set at 350 with the beer can set in a 2in pan. Then I used half the beer in my favorite barbeque sauce, pour some of that into the pan. The remaining sauce I used to brush on the chicken every 20 minutes or so. In the oven for about 75 minutes (chicken was about 4lbs) and dinner!!!!!!!

            3. i like a "memphis rub" recipe that i got on the internet for seasoning--i guess you could google it. put a little in with teh beer so it flavors it from the inside too.

              you can definitely do it in the oven, it works very well if you have convection--you do need it hot, though. maybe 425 or so. i love this. probably had it 5 times this summer? i usually put a little sheet of alumionium foil under the bird when it's on the grill so flare-ups don't char the skin.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chickenhead

                How long do you think it would take at 425 in the oven (I have a gas one)? Thanks!

              2. You have probably already done it by now, but I wanted to mention that my Weber came with little doohickies that contain the coals at each side for just such occassions. Maybe you have them and didn't know what they were. They are made of the same grill work as the grill surface itself and easily attach. Beer can chicken is really really good!

                1. You have probably already done it by now, but I wanted to mention that my Weber came with little doohickies that contain the coals at each side for just such occassions. Maybe you have them and didn't know what they were. They are made of the same grill work as the grill surface itself and easily attach. Beer can chicken is really really good!