Cooking Basics

How to cook a chicken with a beer can

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beer can chicken on grill
Time to get off the can
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Before you empty that beer can, cook a chicken!

It seems like there are as many ways to cook chicken as there are types of beer, which could be the line of thinking used by the guy - you know it was a guy - who came up with the original idea to cook chicken with a beer can.

It's safe to assume that much beer was consumed prior to the first attempt at the recipe and that much laughter followed every time someone looked at the chicken seemingly standing on the grill. Whatever the case, beer can chicken should be a staple in your home because it's easy to make, fun to prepare and watch as it cooks and just plain tasty.

So grab a chicken and a can of your favorite beer or soda and get started!

The best way to prepare beer can chicken is on an outdoor grill, but you can also cook it in an oven. Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking by turning on half the gas burners, or light coals on one side of a charcoal grill.

For indoors, preheat the over to 350 degrees.

In either case, start with a 4-pound chicken and a can of beer or soda. Take out (that means drink or pour out) half of the liquid in the can and let the rest reach room temperature. Remove the neck and giblets from inside the chicken, rinse it off and dry with paper towels. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and rub or brush it all over the chicken. In another small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme) and 1 tablespoon of black pepper. Sprinkle the spices (or your favorite rub) all over the chicken and put it lightly so they stick.

Holding the chicken upright with the legs down, slide it on the can all the way down until it looks like it's sitting.

For grilling, place it on the cool side of the grill and close the lid. Check it every 15 minutes with a meat thermometer until the temperature in the meatiest part of a thigh reaches 160 degrees - this should take about 1 1/2 hours. The chicken is done if you poke the thigh with a knife and the juices run clear.

If using an oven, stand the chicken on the beer can in a roasting pan and roast it for about 1 1/4 hours, checking it the same way for done-ness.

Remove the chicken from the grill by placing a spatula under the can and lifting it into a pan (or leave it in the roasting pan). Let the chicken rest for ten minutes, then use tongs (the can is still hot!) to lift the bird off the can and place it on a carving surface.

Depending how hungry you and your friends are, either nicely slice the meat from the chicken or grab a leg and pull it off. Either way, you'll soon be enjoying tasty chicken cooked the beer can way.

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