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Food
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Ted's Beer Can Chicken

Cooking in the oven is the simplest method. To cook the bird on the grill, use Steven Raichlen's instructions below. Serve with lots of mashed potatoes and a spicy gravy made from a combination of half drippings and half chicken stock.

1 medium whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds)

2 1/2 tablespoons Memphis Rub (recipe follows) or your own rub
1 can (12 ounces) beer at room temperature

Rinse chicken inside and out, drain and pat dry.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the rub inside the neck and body cavity, then rub another 1 tablespoon all over the skin of the bird.

Pop the tab on the beer can. Using a "church key"-style can opener, make 6 or 7 holes in the top of the can. Drink or pour out the top inch of beer, then spoon the remaining dry rub through the holes into the beer.

Holding the chicken upright, push the chicken down onto the beer can so that the can goes into the cavity.

Stand the "stuffed" chicken on a roasting pan. The bottom of the beer can and the two legs form a triangular support. If the chicken is too big and the beer can unstable, buttress the legs with skewers. No trussing or further basting is necessary.

To roast in the oven:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roast about 2 hours until the skin is crisp and the juices run clear when the bird is poked with the tip of a knife. Allow the finished bird to rest before carving.

To cook on the grill:

Set up the grill for indirect grilling, placing a drip pan in the center.

If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium.

If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; then, when smoke appears, lower the heat to medium.

When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss half the wood chips on the coals. Oil the grill grate. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan. Spread out the legs to form a sort of tripod, to support the bird.

Cover the grill and cook the chicken until fall-off-the-bone tender, about 2 hours. If using charcoal, add 10 to 12 coals per side and the remaining wood chips after 1 hour.

It's helpful at this point to enlist a second pair of hands. Using tongs, lift the bird to a cutting board or platter, holding a large metal spatula underneath the beer can for support.

Have the board or platter right next to the bird to make the move shorter. (Be careful not to spill hot beer on yourself.) Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

It's easier and safer to pull the beer can out of the bird and toss the beer can into the sink. But for show and drama, you can carve the meat off the upright carcass.

Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from "The Barbecue Bible" by Steven Raichlen

Sunday, March 26, 2000



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