Beer Can Chicken with "French Fried" Asparagus on the BBQ!
For May 24 long-weekend, which marks the emotional start of the summer season for many, we are going to take a look at a backyard, summer classic: smoked beer can chicken made on the BBQ! Beer can chicken is done using what is known as the "indirect" method in a charcoal BBQ. As I have explained in the past, the indirect method is when, after following the instructions for starting up the charcoal grill that I laid out in a previous post, instead of dumping all the charcoal in the centre, you must instead divide the hot coals into two separate piles along the side of the BBQ drum, leaving the centre without coals. This can be done with a cheap accessory fitted side tray for charcoal made by Weber and other companies, or by simply piling it!
While getting the charcoal going, and you want the coals red hot for when you start to cook, take a whole chicken and brush it all over with extra virgin olive oil. Then season it with seasoning of your choosing. Salt, pepper and paprika make for a good combination. Sometimes I use salt, pepper and Italian seasoning blends. For this chicken I used Schwartz's Chicken Seasoning (Club House imitates it with its Montreal Chicken Seasoning) which does not need added salt or pepper.
On a plate, take a tall can of beer that is half full ( and yes, you should drink the other half first!) and place the chicken on top of it by putting the beer can into the cavity of the chicken. For this one I used half a Sleeman's Cream Ale, but any beer is fine. Remember that it must be a tall can. Small cans will not work.
Remove the grate from the BBQ and place the chicken standing up into the bottom of it, in the middle. To make sure that the beer can and chicken do not fall over, wrap two pieces of brick in tinfoil and use them to hold the beer can and chicken in place.
As you see in photo, the chicken will be cooked standing up! The evaporating beer will moisten it as it smokes.
The chicken will take around an hour and half to cook. You should regulate the coals by taking the lid on and off the BBQ during the cooking so that when they get red hot you put the lid on for a bit. This helps to increase the smokiness as well. I usually do around ten minutes on, then ten minutes off and repeat until done. If you are uncertain as to doneness, a chicken is ready when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 175-180 degrees. Remove the chicken from the BBQ and beer can and place uncovered on a large plate to let sit for ten minutes before carving and serving. Discard the remaining beer. Let me emphasize this again, do NOT drink the left over beer!!! The chicken will come out wonderfully moist and deliciously smoked with that great smoked chicken skin texture and flavour. It is perfect with rice, macaroni and cheese or a summer salad as sides.
Or, while the chicken is sitting, you can make a side of "french fried" asparagus on the grill. Put the grate back on your BBQ. Take some fresh asparagus, wash them and snap off the bottoms, and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place on the grill cross wise (so they do not fall in!) and not directly over the hottest coals. BBQ them for around 5-8 minutes, turning occasionally. They will taste absolutely delightful, with a saltiness and crispiness that reminds one of French Fries. They are a perfect accompaniment for any BBQ main! Enjoy!
This post was originally published on The Left Chapter blog, May 16, 2015.