Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stealing Mark Dredge's Thunder, a.k.a Beer Can Chicken with a Bacon Necktie

A week or two ago Mark Dredge, over at Pencil and Spoon, did a post about his Punk-Ass Beer Can Chicken. So I thought I'd completely step on his toes and do a post on my version of unsolicited, chicken violation. Yeah, I know the "food meets beer" thing is sort of Dredge's territory, but who doesn't love a great recipe swap.

Mark lives in the U.K., and I'm in the U.S. His chickie-chick has a decidedly British slant—fresh herbs, garlic, cloves, paprika and a Brit-made IPA. Mine's going to lean more American—multi-spice dry rub, a Pennsylvania-made American Pale Ale and bacon, yummy ol' bacon. He roasted his in the oven, and I'm going to gloriously grill mine to perfection over an open flame—and try not to under cook it.

So what beer did I choose, you might ask? To which I answer, Sly Fox Brewing Company's Phoenix Pale Ale. Get it? A phoenix is a mythical bird, reborn of fire, and I'm going to grill my bird over fire—pretty good, huh? Really I didn't make that connection until after I bought the beer, but it still works remarkably well as a marketing gimmick, right? Anyway, Mark was looking for a beer with a really bright aromatic hop note, to impart another layer of flavor into his chicken, so he went with BrewDog's Punk IPA. I want something with a little bit more malt quality, to offset the heat in my spice rub, and also a beer with a nice hoppiness to stand up to the smokey flavor that the grill and bacon will impart. APA was the perfect choice, and since I'd never had the Phoenix, I get to grill two birds with one stone.

C'mon, that last bit was pretty clever—even though I'm only grilling one bird.

Anyway, now that we have the beer, onto the rub.

I wish I had a bacon necktie.
This is my go-to spice mix. It's basically a Cajun seasoning, but add some brown sugar, dried coffee, and a pinch of cinnamon and it makes an awesome barbecue rub, as well. It makes way more than you'll need for the chicken.

2-1/2 Tbsps paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried, ground mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne or chipotle pepper (I use a 1/2 tsp)

Mix it all up and rock n' roll. I keep mine in a shaker in the fridge. As far as for the rest of the recipe, you'll  only need a few more ingredients—a 4 (1.85 kg) to 4-1/2 lb (2 kg) chicken—obviously, a little cooking oil, a tad more salt and pepper—oh, and three strips of bacon.

Go get the grill going. We're looking to do indirect heat cooking method, so depending on your grill, either light only the front burner or only one of the side burners. I have a two-burner Weber, so I just use the front burner. We're looking for an initial temp of about 400ºF/204ºC.

Take that Colonel Sanders.
Now that the grill is getting all hot and bothered, dry off that naked bird and season it with the salt and pepper—inside and out. Get in there good, aside from the beer, this is the only seasoning the inside of the chicken will get, so treat it like a scene out of a German porn movie. Okay, so here's where Mark made a rookie mistake, he oiled and herbed up the bird before putting in the beer can. Don't do that, your hands get all slippery and the combination of raw chicken, cooking oil and aluminum, won't work out well for you. Once the can is *cough* inserted, then oil up birdie, and then apply as much or as little of the rub as you like. I always go more than less. Then I plop the bird, can and all, into an 8-1/2"(21.5 cm) x 11"(28 cm) baking dish for easy transport out to the grill, but use whatever you've got. Last but not least don't forget the bacon necktie. To keep the breast moist (snicker) I place the three strips of bacon in a star pattern over the top of the bird, so the strips drape over both the back and breast of the chicken. The bacon fat renders and drips down, self-basting, Chicken Little.

With the grill hot, set the chicken on the grate—off the flame, close the lid and let birdie sear in the high heat for about a half-an-hour, or so. Drop the temp to the 350ºF/176ºC-ish range and let her grill for another hour—for birds in the 4 lb range—and an hour-and-a-half for the bigger birds. When it's done (165ºF/74ºC breast 185ºF/85ºC thigh) let it rest for a bit, remove the can from "the can" and carve it up!

I'm a simple man, so I'm just cooking up some corn-on-the-cob to go with this, and I have a Hofbräu München Oktoberfest that I thought might be a nice malty companion to this chickie, as well. The great thing about beer can chicken is, the leftovers. Tomorrow*, I'll shred up what's left for grilled quesadillas made with homemade barbecue sauce, smoked Gouda, caramelized onions and cilantro.

So there you go, two different takes on the same beery chicken. I think I can speak for Mark when I say, if you haven't tried beer can chicken—in the oven or on the grill, IPA or APA, herbed garlic or bacon necktied—Get to it!

*Tomorrow was today and the quesadillas were great!

1 comment:

  1. interesting details! keep sharing articles like this. Kudos!