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Beer Can Game Hens

4 1-pound game hens
4 8-ounce cans beer (he used Rolling Rock 12-ounce cans)
1 cup hickory or pecan wood chips, soaked in beer or water to cover for 1 hour, then drained

For the rub:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Remove any lumps of fat from the cavities and wash the game hens inside and out. Blot dry with paper towels.

Combine the ingredients for the rub in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Using 2/3 of the mixture, rub the game hens inside and out.

  To make Beer Can Game Hens, cook the bird with a half-full beer can in its cavity. (Joyce Mendelsohn, Post-Gazette)

Meanwhile, pop the tab of each beer can and make 2 additional holes in the top, using a church-key opener. Drink or drain half the beer in each can. Add any remaining rub to the can. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 350 degrees.

Stand the beer cans on your work surface. Holding each game hen upright, lower it over the can of beer so that the can goes into the cavity. (You may have to stretch the cavity a little to make it wide enough to accommodate the beer can.) Pull the bird's legs forward to form a sort of tripod: The hens should sit upright over the can of beer. Carefully transfer the hens on their beer cans to the grill in this position, placing them in the center over the drip pan, away from the heat.

If using charcoal, toss 1/2-cup wood chips on each mound of coals. If using gas, place the chips in the smoker box and heat until you see smoke.

Barbecue the hens until nicely browned and cooked through, about 1 hour, keeping the temperature about 350 degrees. The internal temperature of the birds (taken in the thickest part of the thigh) should be at least 165 degrees.

Carefully transfer the hens to a platter and present them upright with the beer can. When it comes time to carve, lift the hens off the cans, discarding the beer cans.

Serves 4.

-- Steven Raichlen

Thursday, September 28, 2000

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