I have an embarrassing confession to make: Up until this weekend I have never cooked a whole chicken. I’ve thought about cooking a whole chicken, I’ve watched other people cook whole chickens, but I’ve never done it myself.
Something about the idea of cooking a whole bird is terrifying. Part of me wants to blame cookbooks and food magazines that sell millions of copies by cultivating fear in the hearts of would-be cooks everywhere. They’ve made me believe that if I don’t turn it every 14 seconds, brine it in unicorn tears, and slow roast it on a spit over rare teak logs from the rainforest, my chicken is going to be so dry and tough and rubbery that no one will ever want to come over to my house for dinner again…ever.
But, I can’t blame it all on them because I know it’s not hard. I am just afraid to do it. The idea that somehow breast meat and thigh meat and leg meat will all get done around the same time without overcooking seems impossible to me. (Especially because I don’t own a meat thermometer.)
Of course, this weekend Tony (who will fearlessly make anything, and has cooked plenty of whole chickens) suggested that we try our hand at “beer can chicken.” The weather, after all, was unbelievably beautiful. For me, the idea of jamming a can of beer up a chicken’s arse was like imagining the room full of people in their underwear when you’re nervous. A whole chicken might make me anxious, but the sight of it straddling a beer can made me giggle (I’m so immature sometimes), and soothed my nerves. How bad could it be? Even I couldn’t mess up the age-old equation: meat + charcoal = awesome.
It was, in fact, awesome. This chicken was definitely one of the easiest, tastiest (and cheapest!) entertaining meals we’ve ever served. So simple, juicy, and tender—no brining, no infomercial rotisseries, and very little turning required. I can’t wait try out all different kinds of beer and spice combinations this summer; I’ve heard dark beers make for great chickens.
What was even better than the chicken, was the feeling after conquering my silly cooking phobia. Maybe now I’ll attempt brioche?