Monday, May 16, 2011

Finally: A Recipe Appears!


The Quick Science Behind Beer Can Chicken.


1 Whole Chicken (3.5-4lbs)

Vegetable Oil

Kosher Salt

Glaze (Jam, Fruit Butter, any Sugar based Sauce.

Calibrated instant read thermometer

1 (or many more) Beer Can(s)

The reason everyone loves beer can chicken is 1) it involves beer 2) it is an ingenious method for ensuring that grilled chicken stays juicy and tender.

Remove chicken from fridge one hour before roasting to bring up to temperature to ensure even cooking. Drink half of beer. Preheat grill to 350. Remove Giblets, pat chicken thoroughly dry with paper towels. Rub oil around outside of chicken, salt the chicken liberally, and then stand up on beer can. Transfer chicken to preheated grill and roast chicken over indirect heat (middle burner turned off on three burner grill). It should take about an hour and a half to reach the proper temperature. Fifteen minutes before the hour and a half mark, brush on the glaze. Fifteen minutes should be enough for the glaze to reduce down and even become crispy without burning. When the chicken reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast meat, remove it from the grill and let rest for fifteen minutes before serving. It will be fall apart tender and it can be sectioned by hand. My favorite easy recipe is just to use Trader Joe’s line of fruit butters (such as pumpkin) or my homemade strawberry jam.

How it works:

Chicken is a very delicate protein, and responds best to slow roasting (Popeye’s notwithstanding). The other secret to chicken is to treat the different parts, well, differently.

The breast meat is vastly different from the thigh, leg, and wing meat. Breast meat is very low in fat and low in connective tissue. Subsequently, it is low in flavor and sort of boring most of the time.

Leg and thigh meat is high in fat and connective tissue and (sorry) this makes it much tastier. However, due to these differences, these parts of the chicken are considered ‘done’ at different temperatures.

Breast meat is done at 165

Leg and Thigh meat is done at 175.

Do not trust the FDA recommendations. They have been disproven, and are only used by institutions such as prisons and poorly run reformatory schools. Your dinner guests will laugh at your cooking ability.

A ten degree swing in either direction for any of the chicken pieces makes it much less enjoyable, completely inedible by restaurant standards.

The true genius of the beer can roasting method on the grill is that with the beer can stuffed into the cavity of the chicken, it acts as a tripod, which exposes the thigh and leg meat to more direct heat, while keeping the breast from overcooking.


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