Some people swear by beer-can-up-the-butt method of cooking a chicken. My own brother made it look pretty appealing here on this blog. I should have every reason to want to try it myself.
There is just one problem.
I don't like beer.
Okay. Everyone please pick your jaws up off the floor and hush up with the snarky comments for a few minutes. Yes, I admit it. I'm not a fan of the hops and barley brews. I never got over the "yuck factor" that kids have when they first try beer. I just couldn't acquire a taste for it. Even four years of college couldn't make me like the stuff (although I went to college in the era when alcopop reigned supreme anyway). I know people who loved the taste right from the first try. I'm not one of those people. I just never wanted to make the effort to acquire a taste for it. Why would I? To prove to my beer-loving friends that I'm cool? Because it was the only way to get trashed at parties in college? To make myself seem more grown up (Why would I want to do that?) Unlike wine, I never really felt the same blissful combining of beer with food. It's true I find some beers taste better than others, but none of them really taste good to me.
That does create a bit of a dilemma if I want to experiment with the beer can chicken thing.
Beer, like a few other liquors, isn't objectionable when used in a recipe. There are a few different liquors I like to add to recipes, but would not likely drink straight. I don't object to cooking with beer on principle (beer-battered onion rings anyone?)
My problem is that to make beer-can chicken, I need actual cans of beer. When I buy beer for a given recipe, I buy it by the bottle, usually getting it from a source where I can buy one large bottle at a time (like the fancy ones you see at Whole Foods). If I buy cans of beer, I have to buy a 6-pack. I'm not too keen on buying a 6-pack of beer. My husband isn't much of a beer drinker either. There are some beers he likes, but they're always of the bottled variety.
So what's a disordered cook to do?
Well, first you have to question is the method about beer, or is it about having a fragrant liquid gently releasing steam to cook the chicken evenly from the inside out, keeping the meat moist and adding flavor? Bro's recipe did say that any sort of liquid would likely work well. All I really needed was a liquid and a can.
I found a can in my recyle bin. I cleaned it out and peeled off the label. Let's get those yummy BPAs into my chicken.
Inside the can was wine, a lemon wedge, two lightly-smashed garlic cloves, and a few sprigs of rosemary from my garden.
The chicken was then rubbed with butter, olive oil, sage, and time and then lightly sprinkled with salt. Getting it on the can was an issue. It wouldn't stand up straight.
The chicken came out beautifully browned and the flavor was excellent. SPP was impressed on the first bite. The meat was very flavorful.
One thing that surprised me was that it doesn't guarantee moist meat. My meat thermometer is broken so I erred on the side of caution with the cooking time and cooked a 4lb chicken for 90 minutes. That turned out to be 10 or 15 minutes longer than it needed to be cooked. Some of the meat seemed a little dry. I would not have expected that with the moisture coming up from the can.
One trick I used to remedy that was after the chicken cooked, I spilled the contents of the can into the pan and used it to scrape up all of the chicken drippings. I put that through a fat separator and instantly had a flavorful jus for my chicken. Tasty!
Wine Up The Butt Chicken
1 4-pound chicken
1 cup white wine
2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 Tbl fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl fresh thyme leaves
10 fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
Salt for sprinkling
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour wine, garlic, and rosemary in a clean can. Set aside.
Melt butter and olive oil together. Mix in sage and thyme.
Rub the butter herb mixture all over the chicken. Let the chicken sit about 10 minutes if such a thing doesn't squick you out too much.
Place the can on a cookie sheet and carefully stand the chicken up on it as best you can.
Place in the oven and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees.
Optional step: Once chicken is cooked, pour the contents of the can onto the baking sheet and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain and serve on the side with the chicken.