Taken from "Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ" (Wiley Publishing)
I first discovered this method for cooking chicken—literally grilling a chicken set over a beer can—at the Memphis in May Barbecue competition in the early 1990s. I was so amazed that I couldn’t stop talking about it. I’m not taking credit for the beer-can chicken craze, but I taught it to many distinguished culinary writers and chefs. It’s a technique that is easy to love, and now more and more people are roasting a chicken perched on top of a beer can. To make your chicken doubly great, try koshering your chicken before setting it on a beer can.
Makes 4 servings
Grilling Method: Indirect/Medium Heat
1 whole roasting chicken, 4 to 5 pounds, preferably Amish or organic
3 tablespoons dry spice rub, divided, or
Classic Barbecue Rub (recipe below)
1 12-ounce can domestic beer, such as Budweiser
1. Remove the neck and giblets, and rinse the chicken inside and out if desired; pat it dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken lightly with oil and season with 2 tablespoons of the dry rub. Set aside.
2. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. Open the beer can, pour out about 1⁄4 cup of the beer, and make an extra hole in the top of the can with a church-key can opener. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of the dry rub inside the beer can. Place the beer can in the center of the cooking grate over indirect medium heat and sit the chicken on top of the beer can. The chicken will appear to be sitting on the grate.
3. Cover and cook the chicken for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165°F in the breast area and 180°F in the thigh. Remove it carefully to a platter, holding the can with tongs. Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.
NOTE: When removing the chicken from the grate, be careful not to spill the contents of the beer can, as it will be very hot.
TIP: If you prefer a more classic roasted chicken flavor, omit the dry rub and use only kosher salt and black pepper.
Classic Barbecue Rub
Makes about 1 1⁄2 cups
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients; mix well. For a smoother rub, process the ingredients in a spice grinder until well combined and all the pieces are uniform (the rub will be become a very fine powder and tan in color). It is important to grind the spices if adding the rub to any homemade barbecue sauce. (The rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months.)