The Summer That Was
Fall and wintertime offers the best grilling experience
By Scott Tait
I'm writing this in July in hopes that the fall to come is as spectacular as the day I am writing. Sitting on a deck overlooking a lake on a beautiful sunny day, I can see just enough clouds in the sky to add an element of whimsy. The still blue of the lake through the trees adds to the scenic vista and calming tonic of a Northern Ontario summer with enough cold beer to take the sting out of the mosquito bites.
Now is the time when people start thinking about closing up for the autumn while it's still nice out. Chairs and tables are moved aside and covered, the toys of hot days are put away till the spring, and God forbid, the BBQs are covered. So I ask you the question, "Why are you ignoring your Q for the next six months?"
Your BBQ is made of steel and/or porcelain and is designed for outdoor use in all weather. Designers and engineers spend years creating the perfect grill for your needs and you throw a cover over it because the days are colder and the nights are longer. Why? Fall and wintertime offer the best grilling experiences you can get. Brisk chill in the air, warming yourself with your favourite beverage in front of the cooking hearth, and the cheers and adulation of your family and friends because you are braving the elements for them.
Keep the summer fun and food year-round. Not only do they bring back memories of hot days, but they also let you experience the feelings again. Fire it up for your favourite summertime meal or invite the family for a do-over in the middle of winter. Put on your ugliest Hawaiian shirt and bring out the baseball gloves. Barbequing isn't just for the summer anymore.
So in the spirit of the summer that was, I offer you Beer Can Chicken for your dining enjoyment and memories of the summer revisited.
- One 3 1/2 to 4 lb. chicken
- One can of decent beer (No diet, low-cal, or flavoured options. A nice heady IPA works well.)
- One aluminum pie plate or pan to sit the chicken in
- Two tbsp. brown sugar
- One tbsp. garlic powder
- One tbsp. onion powder
- One tbsp. smoked paprika
- One tbsp. kosher salt
- One tbsp. black pepper
As always, these amounts are suggestions. If you want more spice, add some cayenne; like garlic, add more. There are no rules except one – you must like it.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl to create your rub. Taste it. If you want to add more spices or herbs to suit your taste buds, do so.
- Work your fingers between the skin and flesh at the open end of the bird to loosen the skin without breaking it and be sure to keep it attached.
- Rub the chicken inside and out, and under the skin with the spice rub. You don't have to use all the rub you just created. Jar or bag the clean, unused remainder for later use.
- Set up your grill or BBQ for indirect heat. (Light one side of your gas grill or place all your lit coals to one side of your BBQ.) You want to place the chicken over the unlit side when ready. Attain a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius) with the lid closed.
- Empty your beer into a glass and cut the can in half if it's a tall boy or just take the top off if it's a standard size. Drink half the beer and place the rest back in the can. There is no room for wastage with beer!
- Place the open end of the bird over the beer can and work it in in a friendly manner so that it is as far as you can get it into the cavity. Use the legs as support like the bird is sitting on a bar stool and the legs are holding it up. Think tripod.
- Place the aluminum pan on the unlit side and stand the chicken on top of it and let the magic happen. Pour a little beer or water in the pan to anchor the pan and neutralize the fat that will drip off.
You want to get an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 Celsius). This should take about an hour and a half depending on the size of bird and the temperature you can maintain on your grill. Each time you open the lid and look at it you are losing the temp and heat so peek as little as possible. If you notice that one side is browning more than the other, carefully rotate the bird every now and then to even things out.
When you're done, you will have a beautiful, moist and tender bird that your family will drool over while you remember the summer that was.
Be well and eat well!
Scott Tait's blog is www.theartisanalgrill.com