Summer Entertaining with Beer Can Chicken

A few months ago I heard mention of something called beer can chicken. Not being quite sure that this was, I could only imagine it to be some kind of trailer park specialty. None of my close friends or family had heard of it either, so I just figured it wasn’t something too common in our neck of the woods. But I’m always curious and my desire to find out more about this was insatiable. I did a little research online and found out that cooking a whole chicken standing up on top of a beer can on the grill is a popular and easy way to get a juicy, flavorful bird. I also discovered that if I wanted to make beer can chicken, I’d likely need a device designed to hold the can and the chicken, something like this: So, when I found one just like that on sale for $10 at my local wholesale club (plus a bonus flavor injector, oh boy!) I didn’t think twice.

I’ve been looking forward to trying it out for quite some time, since cooking chicken requires a little too much of our time on a weeknight and we haven’t been home for several weekends. Finally, an opportunity arose when my parents offered to come over and help stuff our wedding invitations, and I wanted to make a nice dinner. We enjoyed Asian-spice rubbed chicken, Thai cucumber salad, coconut basmati rice, and sweet and spicy mango chutney. My mother and I sipped on sweet Riesling with our dinner, always a nice compliment to Asian-style or other spicy food. I’m not sure what other connotations might exist regarding beer can chicken, but I think I succeeded in turning it into a relatively easy, yet classy, tasty and delicious summer entertaining meal.

I wish I had taken a picture of my chicken standing on the grill, but I did not so we’ll make do with the graphic shown above. Here is my chicken, rubbed, roasted, and quartered. I was a little skeptical of how this would turn out, but very pleasantly surprised. The spice rub really penetrated the meat, even the breast, where one does not usually expect an extra burst of flavor. Along with the beer (Heineken) and a few wedges of lime stuffed inside the cavity, the bird turned out really moist and wonderful. It took just a little over an hour (we used a meat thermometer to check for doneness). I can’t wait to try this again, and I am even thinking of testing it out with southwestern spice rub and tequila in place of beer.

Asian Spice Rub
1 tbsp Chinese 5-spice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Coconut Rice
easy-peasy. Just use your favorite rice (we used brown basmati tonight) and replace 1/2-2/3 of the water with coconut milk. I used light coconut milk and added a dash of cinnamon, and topped with some freshly chopped basil.
The mango chutney made a wonderful sweet and spicy compliment to the chicken and tasted fantastic with the rice as well.

Sweet and Spicy Mango Chutney
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cups diced, peeled mango
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup dried cranberries (you could also try raisins or currants)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp chili garlic sauce

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until thickened. Set aside until ready to serve.

This Thai Cucumber Salad from Epicurious.com makes a delicious and healthy side for any grilled meal, since it does not have any oil in the dressing. I liked having something cool on my plate too, to contrast with the rice and chicken. It’s also a fun and different way to use up an abundance of summer cukes. I followed the recipe as written, but used regular cucumbers (3 medium-sized) and added a shredded carrot for extra color and flavor.

Thai Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili (about 1 large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 English hothouse cucumbers, halved, seeded, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sliced red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Place cucumbers, onion, and mint in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

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5 Responses to “Summer Entertaining with Beer Can Chicken”

  1. 1

    Ally — August 6, 2007 @ 2:32 am Reply

    Wow! Everything looks spectacular. The chicken looks so juicy! I’ll have to try the coconut rice one day.

  2. 2

    Valli — August 6, 2007 @ 12:44 pm Reply

    The entire meal sounds to die for!I will look for one of those beer can contraptions. It is a great idea and I know the chicken turns out moist and delicious!!!

  3. 3

    MrsPriss30+ — August 6, 2007 @ 10:04 pm Reply

    I make this chicken all the time in my oven. I cook it at 350 for 1 1/2 hours and it always comes out wonderful. I also use coke, dr. pepper or wine in subsitute for the beer for a change of pace. The cola’s add a slightly sweet flavor that my family just loves.BTW, I love your blog!Michelle

  4. 4

    Laura — August 7, 2007 @ 1:04 pm Reply

    I *love* drunk chicken! :)

  5. 5

    docchef — August 9, 2007 @ 2:56 pm Reply

    the chicken looks delicious:)

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