What is it about cooking shows that make them so addictive? I think it’s because in cooking, just like in a good plot, there is always an interesting twist. A good cook always adds something new to the recipe, something new and exciting.
I had the privilege to take part in such creative process last week when we grilled a “beer can chicken” for the 4th of July. Don Addison, Mrs. G’s brand ambassador, was going to prepare it the way his mama and grandma used to make.
Beer can chicken (aka beer butt chicken, dancing chicken or chicken on a throne) is fairly straight forward: You stand a chicken upright on a half-filled can of beer and cook it slowly (indirectly) on a grill. The beer evaporates and permeates the chicken.
I sent an email to Chris Gray, the store manager, asking about the grill we were going to use, and this was when the first twist happened. I mistakenly sent the email to Chef Chris Albrecht. Chef Chris headed Craft Steak in Las Vegas and New York and Eno Terra in Kingston. Now he is a managing partner at Farmers Restaurant Group in DC. He’s a busy guy who is always generous with his expertise.
I am sure Chris didn’t understand why I sent him this email. But being the gentleman that he is, he replied with his method of beer can chicken. “Don’t overcook,” he advised. “Consider a 24-hour brine, and then you can keep it warm for a long time.”
A brine. Of course! If you’re using a local, pasture-raised chicken, chances are that it is flavorful but lean and tough. A brine will soften it and render it tender.
The first step was done, and now it was on to the beer can. And that’s when the second twist happened. Instead of beer, Don uses his grandmother’s recipe for BBQ sauce. He uses a Big Green Egg chicken roaster , fills it up with some of the sauce, and roasts for an hour at 375-400F. After an hour, he starts basting every 15 minutes or so using the same sauce.
According to Don, the chicken is ready when it’s deep golden mahogany, and the wing joints are loose (if you’re not sure about the latter method, use a thermometer).
Here’s the recipe. Do you have a homemade BBQ sauce recipe you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments!
- • One large roasting chicken
- • 18 cups water
- • ½ cup kosher salt
- • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- • Two bay leaves
- • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
- 1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a large bowl and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Let sit at room temperature for two hours.
- 2. Strain the brine and discard the solids.
- 3. Place a whole chicken in a jumbo-sized resealable bag or a brining bag.
- 4. Pour over the brine, squeeze out any excess air from the bag, and close. Place into another bag, and seal again.
- 5. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
- • 1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken
- • Good BBQ sauce (preferably homemade)
- 1. Set the grill for indirect cooking at 375°F-400°F
- 2. Pat dry the chicken inside and out.
- 3. Pour some BBQ sauce into the cavity of the Roaster and slide the chicken onto the Roaster, through the tail end.
- 4. Place the chicken, still on the roaster, on the grid and close the lid of the grill. Cook undisturbed for an hour until the chicken is just beginning to brown all over.
- 5. Using the brush, cover the chicken with BBQ sauce. Cook, brushing the chicken with the sauce several times, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 165°F and the chicken is a mahogany brown color.
- 6. Remove the chicken carefully. Don't skip the drama and present it on the Roaster to your guests.
- 7. Let rest for about ten minutes. Remove the chicken carefully from the Roaster. Carve and serve.
- Green Big Egg Folding Roaster or Sittin’ Chicken Ceramic Roaster (or any other chicken grill roaster), Drip Pan, a pastry brush.