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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Three-Buck Cluck

Beer-can chicken is nothing new, but I hadn't tried making it myself until just recently. It's awfully easy — I just smeared olive oil on a chicken, sprinkled it inside and out with barbecue rub, stuck a half-full (or was it half empty ... can't remember...) Rolling Rock up its butt and put it on the grill for an hour and 15 minutes.

It turned out great, so I was theorizing to my friend Paul about how it might be even better had I used a cheap white wine instead of beer. "Three Buck Cluck!" he said (Paul used to work at Trader Joe's by the way), and I knew I had to come up with a recipe just so I could name it that, if for no other reason. Here it is.

Three-Buck Cluck

Right after I made my first beer-can chicken, Joe's Butcher Shop featured a recipe for one in their email newsletter. Theirs was made with an Amish chicken; mine came from Costco and was possibly Unitarian. (Just to clarify: I really like Joe and his shop, but time constraints prevent me from making the trek over there as often as I'd like.)

One whole chicken
A lemon or two
Herbes de Provence
White Pepper
Olive oil
Inexpensive white wine

Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry. Squeeze lemon juice under skin and into body cavity. Let the chicken absorb the lemon juice for a few minutes, then rub with olive oil. Season with pepper to taste, then sprinkle generously inside and out with herbes de Provence.

Three-Buck-CluckPrepare a beer can by somehow disposing of the beer, then punching a few additional holes in the top with a church key (Unitarian, not Amish). Fill the can to about half with white wine. Rub a little olive oil on the sides of the can, then place the chicken bottom-side down over it as if it were a large cylindrical suppository, so that the chicken is supported upright on a tripod consisting of its legs and the can. Retouch with herbes de Provence where necessary.

Place chicken upright on grill. Cook over medium-high heat using the indirect method and the lid closed for 75 minutes. I used a grill topper to provide a better base for the chicken to stand on, and put a chunk of foil-wrapped, water-soaked hickory over the flame to add a little smoke flavor.

At the end of the cooking time, finish chicken by squeezing fresh lemon juice onto it. Remove from grill and figure out how to remove the can without making a mess or scalding yourself with boiling-hot wine. (One smoke-producing but effective method is to tip the chicken over on the grill, then remove the can with tongs. Alternatively, put the chicken in the kitchen sink and remove can with tongs or an oven mitt.) Let chicken rest five or 10 minutes before serving.

If you decide you like this method of cooking poultry vertically, there are grill accessories available that accomplish the same thing but are a bit more sophisticated (and more costly) than a beer can. One such item is the Vertical Poultry Roasting Wok, which provides support for the bird in the middle of a roasting pan that can be filled with herbs and vegetables. You could also buy a Beer Can Chicken Kit, but for fifty bucks you could also buy quite a supply of beer cans.

For even more information on this topic, check out the entry on Cooking for Engineers.
M. Zane Grey, 10:45 AM