If you are looking for a fun, easy and mess-free grilling recipe this holiday weekend, give beer can chicken a try. Just the sight of it is entertaining. And as you are readying it for its throne of ale, be sure to sing, "I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight," while the bird does a little dance. My kids always appreciated this version of the chicken dance. Of course, by that point you may have had a few beers yourself and the entertainment value will increase substantially.
The recipe below is one I swiped off the Food Network site, last July in fact. It takes 10 minutes to prepare for the grill and cooks for an hour and a quarter. Add some potato salad you've made ahead, and throw some fresh corn on the grill during that last 15 minutes of cooking, and you've got yourself a stress-free, mess-free party. (Tell your friends to bring dessert!)
Beer Can Chicken
1 (4 lb.) whole chicken
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 T. of your favorite dry spice rub
1 can beer
Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil, then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.
Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its two legs and the can like a tripod.
It will look like this:
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e., no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees in the breast area and 180 degrees in the thigh, or until the juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Ta da! The finished bird:
Notes: One chicken serves four, so increase everything to accommodate the size of your gathering. Regarding the internal temperature of 180 degrees in the thigh, that sounds high to me. I pulled mine off at the cooking time stated and it was moist and juicy. I never even probed it. I'll leave that up to you.