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Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Chicken Walks into a Bar

Many years ago, someone pointed out to me an article in the New York Times with the headline, “A Chicken Walks into a Bar,” written by the then relatively unknown Steven Raichlen. By now, many are familiar with the recipe that he popularized in his book, The Barbecue Bible.

For me, the article was a cultural touchstone. For many years, I had cooked my meat – be it chicken, beef or pork – horizontally on the grill. Now this simple, vertical technique always leads to a moist bird on the inside and crispy, seasoned skin on the outside.

The upright position of the bird renders off all of the fat, while the beer steams up through the inside and offers an interesting sight was well. It’s fun and it’s easy.

On a recent Sunday afternoon I made Beer Can Chicken for the first time on my new Weber grill. However, because the lid on the grill lacked the proper height, I found that I had to improvise.

Thankfully, I have a large garage and thus had held onto a Brinkman smoker that I hadn’t used in years (You know the type, it’s shaped like a large bullet).

Guess the lesson here is never throw away a grill that still has a little life left in it, even after you’ve pined after that new, super deluxe model that you saw while shopping for tools at Lowe’s.

Combining the smoker’s lid with the bottom on the Weber grill, the chicken cooked quickly. Prior to cooking, it had been rubbed with olive oil and the rub from Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas. A little Sticky Fingers Carolina Sweet sauce (made in Charleston, S.C.) was brushed on near the end to add another dimension.

Yuengling Traditional Lager, produced by America’s oldest brewery, served as the marinade. Abita Brewing Co.’s Purple Haze Raspberry Wheat Brew complemented the finished product as well as Donna’s delicious au gratin potatoes, first-of-the-season corn on the cob and a salad. Sunday night's dinner is pictured above.

There’s sometimes a question about what to do with the liver and giblets that have been stashed inside the chicken. I recommend placing them in some aluminum foil along with some olive oil and your favorite rub. It makes a nice appetizer for the person doing the cooking.

Personally, I think Raichlen’s recipe is a little too involved, but here is a link:

Go for the gusto.