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.
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
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.
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.
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.