Many people out there may consider beer can cooking to be slightly country bumpkin. Most others would just classify it as redneck cuisine.
What it lacks for in class, it makes up for in simplicity. Due to the beer can the chicken does not have to be brined before hand. It also cooks the darker meat faster than the white, helping retain moisture in the breast during grilling. And let’s face it, cooking with a beer can is fun.
I jazzed this concept up a little and the results were fantastic, but really any spice combination could work and remember the beer can is really a way to steam even more flavor into the meat so the sky is the limit. For this recipe I went with a lighter Mexican beer to mix with the spices. But any type of beer will work, just adjust the spices accordingly. Do not use any beer cans that have a nitrogen widget inside.
For those folks new to a grill this is a really easy way to cook a whole chicken. When preparing the grill create a large amount of coals. When ready to cook the chicken move the coals around the outside of the grill creating a space in the center with no coals. Place the meat over the area without coals. This is called cooking over indirect heat. If using a gas grill then turn off the burners under the chicken and leave the burners on around it. Although this will work on a gas grill, charcoal or an open fire are going to yield the best flavors.
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 12 oz can of Modelo Especial or other light beer
- 3-4 lb whole chicken
- 1 lemon
- 3 large sprigs of rosemary
- 1 tsp file powder
- Olive oil
Wash chicken well and remove the giblets. Let air dry for 30 minutes. Drink 1/2 of the beer and remove the push tab from the top. Pull the rosemary leaves from the sprigs and chop well. Place rosemary twigs into can of beer, breaking them if necessary to fit inside. In a bowl mix file powder, chopped rosemary and 1/2 the juice of the lemon. Season with salt and pepper and add enough olive oil to create a thick paste. Juice other half of lemon in beer can and add all of the lemon rind to can as well. (It will have to be cut up to fit inside the pour hole). Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the chicken body and rub the herb paste into the flesh, trying not to tear the skin on top. Tuck skin tightly to the body to help hold the paste in and place the beer can into the chicken cavity. Arrange the can and legs like a tripod to hold the chicken in a standing position. Drizzle outside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Prepare grill for indirect cooking. If using charcoal you may need to refresh the coals halfway through the cooking process. Place chicken on grill grate and cover. Roast for 1 hour before uncovering. If your grill lid is too shallow them build a tin foil tent to trap the heat from the grill. Continue cooking chicken until done, about 30-45 more minutes, adding more coals if necessary. When done remove can from chicken cavity and let meat rest 20 minutes before carving.