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?
So Sharon, I’ve roasted and grilled a whole lotta whole chickens in my life, but I’ll admit that up until now I’ve never done beer can chicken.
Maggy was with me the day I tried it. She and and I especially enjoyed getting to split the half beer at the beginning, and the can makes a great (amusing) stand for the bird. I know you can picture how much fun we had grilling and photoing it.
That said, I don’t think that beer does a darn thing for the flavor. Tasted great, but I recommend drinking all the beer and refilling the can with water: )
This chicken was really delicious. But I’m not sure that I tasted the influence of the beer either. Maybe it would work better with a dark beer – full of flavor – as opposed to lighter beers we both used. At any rate, I agree with mom. The beer can is a great stand for the chicken!
Tickled Red says
Guinness ladies 🙂 Yum!! Great whole chicken story now I have zero excuse not to pony up myself now and give it a try.
I have to try the beer can chicken. Try your mother’s butterflied chicken- it is easy and delicious.
Sometimes kids need someone else to remind them to try their mom’s recipes!
I had my first beer can chicken this last weekend too! It was awesome but I didn’t notice the beer flavors at all. We also used a lighter ale.
Sharon~ I made Brioche the other day in school and tehn turned it into a chocolate brioche bread pudding. It was unbelievably simple. Give it a shot and I bet you will shock your self!
I guess I’m not great about listening to my mother either 🙂 My husband will often come home telling me about a great idea from someone at work. I may have already told him the same thing but it holds more weight coming from somebody else.
Even better than beer can chicken would be soda can chicken — a neighbor swears by this and gave me a taste one time (she used cola)— it was fantastic!! Rich and moist and very flavorful but it didn’t taste anything like soda. Good stuff!