Wednesday, January 3, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Editor's Choice
Beer Can Chicken can be flavored with your choice of seasonings

By Joan Namkoong
Advertiser Food Editor

Beer Can Chicken is a recipe that has been circulating for a few years, so when I spotted it in "The Best American Recipes 2000: The Year’s Top Picks from Books, Magazines, Newspapers and the Internet" (Houghton Mifflin Co. $26), I decided to give it a try.

The recipe calls for cooking a chicken sitting on an open can of beer, which acts as a vertical roaster so that the fat drains off, the skin crisps and the steam rising from the beer keeps the chicken moist. Cookbook author Steve Raichlen’s recipe calls for seasoning the chicken with barbecue rub, then cooking it in a kettle grill with wood chips.

You can also make this chicken in the oven, which is what I did. I simply rinsed and patted dry a whole chicken, seasoned it with a local seasoned salt mix, stood it on an open can of beer and roasted it upright in a pan for about an hour and 15 minutes. My dinner guests loved it even more than a garlicky, crunchy chicken made from another recipe I was testing (the subject of a future column).

You can add flavorings to the beer — I added minced garlic — that will help enhance the taste of the chicken. Other options include fresh herbs, crab boil mix, Asian seasonings or whatever else you might use to season a chicken.

Here is Raichlen’s recipe in its entirety, as reprinted in "Best American Recipes 2000."

Beer Can Chicken

2 cups hickory or oak chips
2 12-ounce cans beer
1/2 cup barbecue rub or Memphis Rub (recipe follows)
Two 3 1/2 to 4 pound chickens, washed and patted dry with paper towels

Place wood chips in a medium bowl. Pop the beer cans' tops and make two additional holes in each top with a church-key opener. Pour half the beer from each can over the chips. Add more beer or water to cover the chips and soak for 1 hour. Reserve half-cans of beer.

Meanwhile, start a charcoal fire in a kettle grill. When coals are hot, move them to the sides of the grill; place a drip pan in the center. Set grate over grill. Drain wood chips.

Rinse chickens and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of barbecue rub in the neck cavity and 2 teaspoon in main cavity of each chicken. Add 1 tablespoon rub to each half-can of beer. Season outside of each chicken with 2 tablespoons of rub.

Scatter wood chips over hot coals. Stand beer can on a work surface and place chicken over can so that can goes into main cavity. Pull chicken legs forward so that chicken stands upright on the can. Transfer chickens to center of grill over the drip pan.

Barbecue chickens until brown and cooked through, about 1 1/2 hours or until thermometer registers 165 degrees in thickest part of thigh. Carefully transfer chickens to a platter (still upright) and carefully remove beer cans. Discard cans and carve the chickens.

For oven method: Rinse and pat dry chickens. Generously season with barbecue rub, seasoned salt or just salt and pepper. Place open beer can in chicken cavity and stand upright in a shallow roasting pan. Place chicken in 350-degree oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours.

Memphis Rub

1/4 cup paprika
1 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well. Cover tightly and store up to 6 months.

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