Beer Can Chicken Without the Beer
I know what you are thinking, what no beer? Why would you do that? Beer is many splendid thing that makes chicken wonderful. There are two reasons for no beer. First we rarely drink beer so I just don’t have it in the house. And second it can really overwhelm the flavor of the chicken and rub so I wanted to try it without the beer. Let me tell you this is the way to go!! Heaven.
I made my chicken on a Traeger smoker pellet grill. They are very cool, highly user friendly and frankly if all you ever used one for is this chicken and homemade pizza you would get your money’s worth in no time at all. They look like a normal grills but use wood pellets to make smoke and heat. The smoke is very tasty and the electric ignition is so much simpler than charcoal its unreal. This all being said you can make this recipe in an upright regular smoker, gas grill or even your oven. The cook times will of course vary based on the apparatus. I recommend you buy a thermometer it will help with all this. If you have already had success with beer can chicken in your kitchen or on your grill then you know how to handle the cooking process.
This chicken was really heaven; the aroma alone was just divine! The first night we ate it without even putting any sauce on it, it was that good. The skin was so flavorful with the rub on it that my family was peeling off strips of it as I was trying to slice it up for pictures. I have made beer can chickens for years, but I normally don’t turn the heat up really high at the end, and this time I gave it a try after other online cooks recommended it, wow that was the ticket. It may have caused the skin to blister a little (ok a lot) but it did great thing to the way that skin tasted and its texture. It also did not cause the meat inside the chicken to get dry at all. Even the wings were great! Also the leftover chicken made great enchilada filling and even better chicken wraps for lunch.
In the Can
1 clean and dry soda can
½ – ¾ cup white wine
¼ cup lemon juice
The peel of an orange
Large spring fresh rosemary
Any soda can you have around the house will work, we had a La Croix can that had not hit the recycle bin yet so that was my pick. I used a funnel to get all the liquids in and then shoved the peel and herbs in after. You could easily change the aromatics for anything you prefer, but I will say this combination smelled so good. I also will add any leftover rub to the can, just so it will not go to waste.
1 large roasting hen
1-2 tbsp black pepper
3+ tbsp your favorite poultry seasoning
3+ tbsp granulated dry garlic
¼ cup salt
2 sprigs of rosemary
One large shallot or small onion, peeled but left whole
Mix the sugar and all the dry spices together and set aside while you get your bird ready for its massage. My chicken was huge!! He had to be like 6 pounds, he was so big I could only just fit him in my grill. So keep that in mind when shopping. Once he is fully defrosted rinse the bird inside and out then pat dry. I like to let my bird air dry for a little while too.
Once you are happy with him rub the inside and out with a little olive oil. Then start by seasoning the inside of the bird heavily with the rub, and tucking the rosemary under the skin. Next give the outside of the bird a good rub with the rest of your rub. Make sure the rub to sticks to all the exposed skin; if you need it add more olive oil. You can even slide some under the skin with the rosemary. Don’t forget to tuck the wing tips under.
Now its time to wedge him on to the can…be careful you don’t spill the wine. I recommend that if you will be grilling/smoking him outside that you don’t try to transport the bird balanced on the can. Go outside first then shove him on the can right next to the grill/smoker so you don’t have to transport the balanced bird.
At this point if you have a Traeger or smoker you want to check it is up to the low smoke temperature about 225 on mine. In a regular oven, I don’t think I would go with the whole low and slow cooking, I would just pop the balanced bird into a 350 degree oven like any chicken I was roasting. If you are using a smoker box and BBQ grill I am not the person to give advice on the best cooking time and temperature, ask Bobby Flay I am sure he can tell you what to do.
Ok now it is time to balance your bird in the smoker/oven. The bird I had was very stable on the can but it can vary, use the ends of the legs to help the bird stay standing up. If you are cooking in an oven you will want to have a baking dish under the bird to catch the drippings, in a smoker we just let that drip into the drip pan. They sell special beer can chicken pans and stands in the stores, I have never tried one but if you have one go for it.
The charm of the beer can chicken is that he will need very little attention, other than being sure the smoker has plenty of fuel for the rest of the time he cooks. After an hour I decided to give a quick peak (bad form if you ask the smoker gurus) and he had already started turn pretty color.
I let my bird go for 4 hours on the low smoke setting. Then put a thermometer in to check the temp it was at 147 degrees, I could have left him on low for another hour or so to get him up to 160. (If you are cooking in a regular oven depending on the size of the bird he will cook to 165 in 1-2 hours, just pop a meat thermometer into the breast of the bird to check and see when he is done)
I have been watching a lot of smoking/BBQing shows on the food network and for poultry lots of cooks turn the heat up right at the end to give the skin a chance to caramelize. So I put my Taeger up to high, or about 400 degrees. I let if run for about 15-20 more minutes. The skin did split which was a little ugly but let me tell you the taste was great. I pulled the bird off the grill with an assist from my husband, it can be tricky so be careful.
I let the bird rest for ten or so minutes before I wiggled him off the can. Let’s be honest the bird basically fell apart and I was able to toss the can in the garbage. (If you made the bird in the oven and have pan juices you could use any liquid left in the can to make them into gravy, just a thought) I served the bird with a cucumber salad and sweet potato fries, it was a great dinner.
Leftover chicken was sinfully good as the filling in these enchiladas. I also used it for a nice Southwest style wrap for lunch with some salsa and jack cheese.