A Boost for Beer-Can Chicken


A few years ago, I tried to make beer-can chicken. The recipe called for balancing a whole chicken on a half-empty can of beer, then grilling it over indirect heat. The steam generated from the beer was supposed to keep the chicken moist, while the indirect heat bronzed the skin without turning it black.

I’m an ardent fan of roast chickens, and this seemed like the perfect way to cook a chicken on a hot day when I didn’t want to turn on the oven and heat up the house. The bird could cook outside with the mosquitoes while I stayed inside with the air-conditioner.

But my grilling skills back then were sorely lacking. My chicken ended up a pale, rubbery mess, probably a result of not adding enough coals as they burned down.

It was so disappointing that I might never have tried beer-can chicken again. But then I got a gas grill, which can provide consistent heat, making the recipe less prone to human error.

So I picked up a can of beer and a chicken, game for another round.

One of the other problems I had last time was a very dry bird. I tried to think of a way to avoid relying on the steam from the beer to keep the chicken moist. I decided to bring out the big guns – a tub of mayonnaise, perfect for preventing the flesh from drying out. It could also act as a vehicle for adding spices (and color).

I could have used any spice mix, either purchased or homemade, but chose Madras curry because I love its earthy, intense flavor. A squirt of hot sauce gave the mixture a happy jolt. I slathered it all over the bird, including inside the cavity, and plopped it on the grill.

That wasn’t all I did. Usually, when I roast a chicken, I add potatoes and carrots …
Read more of this New York Times story.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Karen C says:

    Yogurt mixed with Indian Spices is a much healthier ingredient to coat a chicken with. I mix the desired spices with Greek yogurt, slather all over the chicken pieces and let sit overnight. The next day, grill with all the coating still on the chicken. Great tasting and moist chicken. Another tip: I always soak my chicken pieces overnight in buttermilk and Tabasco Sauce mixture. I use just enough buttermilk to coat the chicken pieces and add about a tablespoon of Tabasco. Then proceed to however you are cooking the chicken. The buttermilk draws out toxins, keeps the meat moist and tasty, and the Tabasco gives it just the right zip!

  2. Avatar Max says:

    If I may… I have been cooking "beer-can chicken" a couple of times a month for 15 years. IMHO the can does not steam the chicken but provides a more cubical mass for even cooking. Put a full can of anything in the chicken, very little evaporates to provide steam. I'm a tech type of cook and recommend the book "What Einstein Told His Cook". Enlightening and kinda cool.