|(left) Putting the chicken on the grill. (right) Allowing the fully cooked chicken to rest 15 minutes prior to carving.|
I read numerous articles about beer can chicken prior to actually giving it a try. I guess I assumed it would be difficult. It most certainly is not. The interior stays moist and delicious with a hint of BBQ smokiness while the skin gets crisp and carries all that wonderful flavor of the rub. Although you can use pretty much any liquid to keep the bird moist while cooking, I continue to use beer. I figure since it works so well, why change it?
The rub makes enough for 2-3 chickens, however, I keep it on-hand in a jar on my spice shelf for BBQ chicken breast, pork ribs, etc. Although I have also successfully added BBQ sauce to the chicken at the end of cooking for a little extra pop, it is delicious with just the rub.
When purchasing your chicken make sure it's not so big you can't close the cover on the grill. I hadn't thought that through one time and, although I was successful in closing the lid, it was a little close for comfort.
Basic BBQ Rub:
3/4 c. chili powder
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. salt
2 T. black pepper
2 t. cayenne pepper (1 - 2 t. more if you like it spicier)
1 t. cumin
1 t. garlic salt
Mix all the ingredients together in medium bowl. Store any leftover rub in an airtight container at room temperature.
For the Chicken:
2 - 4 c. wood chips, soaked for 1/2 hour - 45 minutes in water and drained
1 - 3 to 4 lb whole chicken, giblet package removed
1/4 c. + 3 T. BBQ Rub (recipe above)
1 - 12 oz. can beer
For a gas grill: If you don't have a wood chip tray for your grill, make one by using either a disposable aluminum pan covered with a piece of foil or make an aluminum foil packet. Cut 6 slits at the top of either aluminum foil packet (to let the wood chip smoke infuse the chicken). Rest the wood chip tray on the primary burner and turn all burners on. Let the grill heat up until the chips start smoking, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, open the top of the beer can with a can opener so the entire top is removed. Pour out (or drink) 1/4 of the beer and add the 1/4 c. BBQ rub. The beer will foam, but should stay in the can. Rub the chicken inside and out with the 3 T. BBQ rub (use more if desired), getting it under the skin as well.
Turn off at least one of the burners, where the chicken will be setting. (I have a 3-burner grill and I leave the far right burner on high, the middle burner on low and turn the far left burner to off. I set the chicken directly above the far left burner). Slide the chicken onto the beer can, careful not to crush in the sides, so it can stand in an upright position over the cooler part of the grill. Try to maintain a temperature of 350 -375 degrees Fahrenheit inside the grill.
Turn the chicken after about 40 minutes, for even browning. Chicken will take approximately 60 - 90 minutes, depending on the size and the heat of your grill.
When removing chicken from the grill, do so carefully as the beer can and it's contents will be extremely hot. (I poke a long kebob stick through the neck hole of the chicken down into the can to loosen it from the bird) Discard the can and it's contents once cool. Allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes prior to carving.
For a charcoal grill: Build a medium-hot fire. Make a foil packet for the wood chips and place it on top of the hot coals. Place the chicken over the coal-less portion of the grill. Cover, with the vents open, and cook the same as above.