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Aug 2, 2009 10:19 AM

How to Simulate Indirect Heat on a Gas BBQ

I own a WEBER ''Q" gas BBQ.
It does not have multiple burners so I cannot create indirect heat with its controls.
I want to BBQ 'Beer Can Chicken' and I have just enough enough height to close the lid.
Unfortunately, the instructions clearly state that I need indirect heat.
All suggestions are really appreciated.
Thank you in advance.

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  1. Unless you have more than one burner your screwed.

    1. take a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, fold it in half or even in thirds and place it under your food and put the burner on low(i like putting soaked woodchips around it too).
      I've cooked meatloaf on my WeberQ like this. I put the foil directly on the grill grate, put a small rack on the foil that sits about 2cm above the foil and put the meatloaf on that rack. Turns out awesome, I'm sure you can use the same technique for the chicken. Good luck!

      9 Replies
      1. re: mwagner79

        I do not have any latitude in the height to raise the stand off the surface.
        Do you think that matters?

        1. re: allanc

          buy a chicken that is 2 cm shorter than the one you have and it should fit.

          1. re: allanc

            You can always chop an inch off the nose of the chicken. Is it possible to remove the grill and place something like firebricks, a pizza stone or a cast iron skillet over the burners on one side? A skillet would also do a good job of catching the juices keeping the bbq cleaner. I often use a griddle plate on my bbq for this reason (amongst others).

            1. re: Paulustrious

              This particular BBQ only has a burner (no lava stones, etc).

          2. re: mwagner79

            A while ago, I went to a high end BBQ store and posed my initial question.
            The 'consultant' said 'no way' without more than one burner.
            Just goes to show you .....

            1. re: allanc

              They probably want to sell you a new grill.

            2. re: mwagner79

              We *finally* tried the beer-can chicken using the folded heavy-duty aluminum foil.
              I would estimate that the foil (with the chicken stand) occupied about 80 percent of the cooking surface.
              It was really good but had lost some of its juiciness.
              When we cut into the meat to check for doneness, a lot of juice escaped.
              Also, I preheated the Q to 350.
              However after I opened the hood and closed it again the temperature (according to the built in thermometer rested at about 250 for the full 1.25 hours.
              Any suggestions?

              1. re: allanc

                Maybe not exactly the type of suggestion you are looking for, but you never want to cut into meat to check doneness. As you experienced, you will lose all the juice. A probe thermometer is pretty good for checking, though some juice still escapes. Even better is a cake tester (such as the ones available at JB Prince, and probably BB&B as well). Simply stick it in the fat part of the meat and leave it for five seconds, then pull it out and put it on your lip. Train yourself to understand what the different temperatures feel like on your lip, i.e: cold = raw, no distinguisable temp = rare, just warm = mid rare, warm = medium... etc, etc...

                1. re: ktb615

                  I have an 'instant' thermometer which isn't very 'instant'.
                  After about 30 seconds in the bird, the temp was still climbing.
                  That is when we decided to make the small incision.

            3. use an oven. you gain nothing by using a grill as an oven unless you're introducing smoke.

              3 Replies
              1. re: tommy

                Isn't a BBQ convention?
                Also, the broiler element on our oven doesn't work right now :(.

                1. re: allanc

                  Indirect heat is analagous to baking, so you wouldn't need the broiler.

                  1. re: jzerocsk

                    Thank you for the clarification.

              2. You may be able to shield the bird a bit by using one of those metal holders. They sell for about 15 to 30 dollars, and are essentially dishes with a tall center insert. Although there are holes in the bottom, if you set your grill on low and consider using lava stones to fill the holes to absorb some of the direct heat coming from the burner, you may be okay. You will need to check your bird frequently, and possibly watch it for the first half hour to see if it is working.

                I have a multi-burner Weber unit, and usually have success with an old-fashioned beer can when I turn off the center burner, but when I bought a new grill this year, the nice new clean burner holes caused the heat to be too high for my bird, and it caught fire. In only a few minutes, it was ruined. I did turn off the burner that was directly under the bird, but it burned anyway. I was just used to cooking on the old grill, (same Weber, only older) and didn't realize that the burner holes were probably not clear enough to have ever been a hazard to the bird.

                I am thinking about getting one of these gadgets for that reason, It will shield the bird a bit because it is metal, and that could only help. Plus, if you add a single layer of lava stones, no flame will actually touch the bird directly no matter what happens. If you put the lava stones in after putting the bird on the holder, it should not affect overall height. Amazon had some cheap ones, and I think for you it is worth a try. For me, this would just be insurance, as I have since managed to cook a couple of these without incident.

                BTW -- use smaller birds if height is an issue. They cook faster and come out better anyway.

                1. Another Idea would be to spatchcock the bugger!

                  To be brief, cut the backbone out with a pair of shears, and flatten the carcass out -- use a cleaver to split the keel bone. Season the chicken well and wrap in two layers of foil. Put on the grill on lowest setting, skin side up. Roast until done (poke a hole in the foil to check doneness with a thermometer.

                  For color and flavor, crank the heat, take the chicken out of the foil (save the juices) and place skin side down directly on the grill to get it nice and crispy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MikeB3542

                    But then it wouldn't be 'Beer Can Chicken'!