Over the weekend I attended the Food and Wine Festival at the National Harbor. While I was there I met a few guys from Pork Barrel BBQ. We chatted for a bit about barbecuing and about their business.  I love BBQ and I am always looking for a short cut.  They make BBQ rubs and I must say it is pretty tasty.  Spices are expensive and when you can purchase a single spice instead of 15 for barbecuing, that is the kind of short cut I am looking for.  Before I left they gave me a can of their All American Spice Rub to try.  So I went to the store looking for something to BBQ.  In the fresh meat department they had chickens on sale.  Ninety-nine cents a pound, you can’t beat that.  So I decided to make a beer can chicken.  I had the beer and the rub, so this was a pretty easy choice.

Perfectly Cooked and Ready to Eat
Perfectly Cooked and Ready to Eat

There is no need to purchase any apparatus to make a beer can chicken.  There are a ton of products out there that are available to help make a beer can chicken.  As the name states, all you need is a beer can and a chicken.  The chicken legs and the beer can balance the chicken perfectly.  Plus, once it is on the grill you are not going to move it till you remove it.  So my tip of the day, don’t get scammed by beer can chicken holders. 

Beer Can Chicken

First things first, start your grill.  If you have a charcoal grill, start an offset fire on one side of your grill.  If you have a gas grill, only turn on the burners on 1/2 of your grill.  Close the lid and let it come up to temperature.  You will want your grill to hover between 300-350 degrees.  With a gas grill this is easy, but with charcoal it will take some work with the air vents.  You will also have to add coals half-way through cooking.  So about an hour in, start another chimney. 

I always start my charcoal with a chimney.  No lighter fluid and the coals come out perfect every time.
I always start my charcoal with a chimney. No lighter fluid and the coals come out perfect every time.

Once you have your coals on the fire I always add some wood chips to smoke some extra flavor into the chicken.  If you are using a gas grill you can pick up a smoker box at your local big box retailer.  Just soak some chips in water, place in the box and then set it over the flames on the hot side of the grill.  It will add the perfect amount of smoke to your chicken.  Remember the wood chips will only last about an hour on the fire.  So you will have to add some halfway through.

I opted for cherry as I find that hickory and mesquite are a little strong for chicken.
I opted for cherry as I find that hickory and mesquite are a little strong for chicken.

While your grill is heating up, wash your chicken.  Clean it on the outside and inside.  Make sure to remove the giblet bag.  Burnt plastic is never a good thing.  Using a towel (cotton or paper) dry off the bird.  You won’t get it all but do the best you can.  Now using the vegetable oil, rub down the bird.  Give it a nice spa treatment before you grill it up.  Remember to use vegetable oil and not olive oil.  The grill will be pretty hot and you don’t want the olive oil burning.

The chicken asked for an extra 15 mins of massaging but I said no, I was hungry.
The chicken asked for an extra 15 mins of massaging but I said no, I was hungry.

Once you have the bird all rubbed down, sprinkle on your rub. 

The All American Spice Rub is delicious
The All American Spice Rub is delicious

Be generous with the rub.  Make sure to put some rub inside of the bird. 

Sprinkle it on kind of heavy as the seasoning needs to penetrate the skin.
Sprinkle it on kind of heavy as the seasoning needs to penetrate the skin.

Now for the fun part.  Drink half a beer.  Don’t take your time here, I recommend drinking it rather quickly.  You have a raw chicken on your cutting board.  Once you have finished half, add a bit of the rub to the beer can and then place the beer can into the point of no return of the chicken.  You will find that it goes right up there.  Only about 1/2 inch of the can should be sticking out. 

It is almost as if the chicken is wondering where the beer is going to go.
It is almost as if the chicken is wondering where the beer is going to go. If he only knew.

Stand the chicken up on the cutting board.  Spreading the chicken’s legs apart you will find that it will balance and stand upright with the help of the can.  See, no need for expensive can holders. 

It stands perfectly upright. Make sure to move the legs around until it is balanced.
It stands perfectly upright. Make sure to move the legs around until it is balanced.

Now insert your thermometer probe into the chicken.  Slide it into the chicken breast and make sure that it is not touching bone.  If it does, remove the thermometer and try again in the other breast.  If you don’t have a probe thermometer, check the birds temperature after about 2 hours on the grill.  You want it to be about 178 in the breast.  If it isn’t at 178 then keep on checking the temperature every 15-20 minutes.  I am a big fan of meat thermometers as it takes the guessing out of cooking.  Plus, it prevents you from overcooking the meat.  Over cooked meat is not happy meat. 

Make sure that the probe is not touching the bone.
Make sure that the probe is not touching the bone.

Now place the bird onto the grill on the cold side.  The key to beer can chicken is to cook it over indirect heat.  That way you will not get any flare ups causing burning and the chicken will cook evenly.

Now it is a waiting game.  Open up the lid only if you need to add more charcoal or wood chips. 

When your thermometer reaches 178 degrees take the bird off the grill and wrap in aluminum foil.  Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

Look at that crispy skin.  MMM.
Look at that crispy skin. MMM.

Beer can chicken is simple and amazing.  The skin gets crispy and delicious.  The rub that I used today was fantastic.  It balanced well with the chicken and was not overpowering when you just ate the skin alone.  Plus, at $8 a tin it is pretty affordable.  You can get the rub at http://porkbarrelbbq.com/.

Look at all of those juices.  This was one of the juiciest chicken I have ever eaten.
Look at all of those juices. This was one of the juiciest chicken I have ever eaten.

A side note for apartment dwellers.  You can do the same thing as above except don’t use the wood chips and set your oven to 350 degrees.  Place it in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Check the temperature to make sure it is done and then enjoy.

The skin was so amazing.  It was crispy and golden brown. The rub added so much flavor.
The skin was so amazing. It was crispy and golden brown. The rub added so much flavor.

Beer can chicken is the only way to roast a chicken.  It is so moist and delicious.  I had a few friends over to eat this and they loved it.  But a five pound chicken has a lot of meat, so check back on thursday for recipes for left over chicken.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

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