Beer Can Chicken

This is a "classic old fashioned" BBQ recipe for chicken. In my opinion, it is the second best way to cook a whole chicken.

Spice the Chicken

The night before you intend to cook, rub a whole chicken with a red rub, make sure you get a lot in the cavity and push as much as you can under the skin around the breast and legs. Refrigerate in a plastic bag and bring it back to room temperature before you cook.

Prepare a beer can.

Take one can of beer, obviously not a bottle of beer, drink about 1/3 and using a can opener or church key remove the top from the beer can. Pour a few tablespoons of the red rub into the beer. Do this over a sink because there will be a chemical reaction and the beer will foam up all over the place.

Insert the beer can upright into the cavity of the chicken. There are other ways to describe this, but we will not go there.

Cooking BBQ or a Grill

 There are two ways to cook the chicken. The "classic" way is in a BBQ smoker where there is lots of hickory or oak smoke and low heat (about 220 degrees). Place the chicken on the grill so the base of the beer can holds the chicken upright. It will take 3 to 4 hours to perfectly cook the chicken this way. The internal temperature of the little chicken needs to be about 180 degrees. If you cook it this way, I believe the chicken needs a mop sauce applied every 30 minutes or so. See the mop sauce recipe below.

I have also cooked this chicken over the "cool" side of a charcoal grill. Build a medium fire on one side of a large grill. Be prepared to throw some water soaked hard wood chips over the fire to create some smoke, and add more wood as the chicken cooks. Place the chicken on its "throne" on the "cool" side of the grill. Place the cover on the grill and cook/roast away. Rotate the chicken after about a half an hour to brown and crisp both sides.

I use real hard wood charcoal in my grill. The charcoal burns very hot, much hotter than briquettes, and it burns very quickly. The temperature under the hood can reach 400 degrees. I really do not recommend using briquettes for this recipe (or any others). There is way too much glue and other chemicals. Anyway, the chicken will be done in an hour and a few minutes. With this quicker method, you do not need a mop sauce. You also do not get as much smoke taste.

Mop Sauce

There are many many X10 recipes for mop sauces. There are also many debates, after a few beers or glasses of wine, about the proper use of mop sauces. Mop sauces are applied during the slow cooking/smoking of a piece of meat. The purpose is to keep the meat moist. Chicken can be very dry, especially the white meat, and I think it needs mopping. Here is a basic mop sauce recipe.

Use about a cup of beer and a cup of chicken stock and add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil and a couple of tablespoons of red rub. Add a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and Tobaso sauce (to taste). Instead of beer and broth, use a cup of cider or white wine vinegar and about a half-cup of water. Warm the sauce in a small saucepan and apply every 30 minutes or so.