Sunday, August 25, 2013

Put a Beer in It

While I think women are quite capable, I still think there are some things that men do better. Like peeing outside, not holding grudges, and manning a grill. Having said that, I don't think that means women should concede those things, except for peeing outside—which I tried in a hoop skirt nonetheless when I was in college. All I can is that it's very difficult to accomplish with any sort of grace or class. But who says we can't master the grill, for instance? Well, that was my mindset when I finally decided to tackle the legendary beer-can chicken. 

I'm sure for some of you advanced grillers, you may laugh at the remedial nature of my quest. A beer-can chicken is like grilling for dummies. But I also say you can't go wrong with a classic and you have to start somewhere. While I've continued to dabble on the grill (with recipes like this and this), it's definitely still outside of my comfort zone.

This did seem easy though. You basically just stick a whole chicken on a half-full can of beer and then grill it for like an hour and you have a succulent, tasty chicken. The concept is that the steam from the beer flavors the meat and keeps it moist. And in theory the can props up the chicken for an even roast, so you don't have to worry about scorching, flipping, or stressing.  

But the problem with theories is that they are theories. And while this does seem impossible to screw up, I, of course, was able to screw it up. My error was that I didn't position the can well on the grill. It was kind of sitting precariously between the grates. (I could've just moved it 1 cm to the left or right and it would have been fine.) Rookie  move! As such, my bird tipped over and was left to grill unevenly for an unknown period of time. 

Thankfully it's a mistake you can recover from. While my bird was a little crispy (*cough*) on one side, it was indeed incredibly juicy. And I see now why men say that a grill is not an oven. You can't walk away from it when it's on. I used to think it was just an excuse to drink beer and avoid doing other work in the kitchen, but now I realize it's some pretty sound logic. 

The smoky-sweet rub offered great flavor to the meat and is also a ridiculously simple formula for success. It's as easy as 1-2-3...4 in this case. You just mix 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper, 2 Tbsp sweet paprika, 3 Tbsp brown sugar and 4 Tbsp kosher salt. This rub would be perfect for almost any meat so feel free to make a big batch and keep in the pantry so you have it at the ready.

Even though I biffed it a bit, I do think a beer-can chicken is a nearly fail-safe way to achieve grilling perfection—whether you're a guy or a girl. Even though it's easy, it's still impressive to pull a whole bird off a grill. And at the end of the day, who doesn't want to look like they've got it going on? 

Beer-Can Chicken

4 Tbsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 can lager beer
1 3 1/2 - 4 lb chicken
Foil baking pan

1. Prepare grill for high, indirect heat and fit with grill pan. For a gas grill, leave 1 burner turned off and place drip pan over unlit burner. Add water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch. Pour out (or drink) half of beer. 
2. Combine the first 4 ingredients into a small bowl and season the outside of the chicken with the rub. Place cavity of the chicken, legs pointing down, onto open beer can so that it supports the chicken upright. 
3. Place the can, with chicken, on the grill over indirect heat and above the drip pan. Grill chicken, covered, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees (about 45-60 minutes). Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving.  

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