Beer Can Chicken

Ok so I know you all have been wondering….has Janet tried to do any more cooking on her new Weber grill? I am proud to report that I have grilled something almost every single weekend! I have mastered the art of grilling a pork tenderloin…I know how long to cook it…what spice rub I should use and so forth.

A brief note on use of spice rubs…many of these recipes call you to mix spices such as 1/2 tsp chili powder; 1/2 tsp cumin; a 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey and so forth. Frankly, as long as I can purchase Grill Mates (especially Smokehouse Maple) at the store, then I will forego those steps. (Yes, I am interested in regaining my culinary skills so I can cook a meal for the gentleman caller with the smiling eyes, but let’s not get toooo carried away with this cooking stuff.)

So, any how I decided that I needed to broaden my skills for several reasons. One, my gentleman caller might not like pork and Two, he might want me to cook more than one meal (I will have to say that I would really have to like him to entertain such a silly notion) but on the long shot I meet someone and actually have more than one date, I need to be ready.

So I researched grilled chicken recipes on the internet and one that kept popping up was beer can chicken. It sounded sooooo simple……you get a can of beer; pour out half of it (into a glass for you to drink); add some spices to the beer in the can; shove the chicken onto the can and put into the grill.

You walk away and come back 1.5 hours later and bam, a perfectly cooked chicken.  They even had videos of such.

What is there not to like?


So, I go to the grocery store on Saturday with my Bobby Flay (THE Grill Master) recipe in hand. I get my chicken and my spices. Now for the beer…………..did you know that they only sell beer in 6-packs in the grocery store?  Not single beers UNLESS you want to mix and match single beers in glass bottles to make a 6-pack. I needed ONE CAN of beer.

Ok, no problem……I drive down the road to a gas station quickie mart–I have seen interesting types of people buying beer at these places. Well, THIS gas station quickie mart sells PowerAde, Red Bull whatever, soft drinks and no beer.

Hmmmmm….in retrospect, I should have paid attention to this roadblock.

So, I drive to the next gas station and they sell 4-packs of beer but I did also find a container of cheap single beers and I found a can of something called Corona Light. I did not care what it was…I chose this beer just because it was a tall cylinder can that I thought would fit nicely inside the chicken…the perfect grilled beer-can chicken accessory.

I do not usually buy beer at a gas station (heck…I do not usually buy beer at all) and I had to fight the urge to explain to the cashier that I would not be DRINKING this can of beer but I was going to use it to cook a chicken.  I then thought how that would sound and decided against it.

Home at last and I dutifully pour out the beer and add the spices and the rosemary sprigs and missed the sentence in the instructions that said the beer might fizz out. Ha–it fizzed out and all over the counter. No problem…I cleaned that up.

The recipe said I should brine the chicken for an hour in a mixture of liquid and salt and sugar and honey and spices and wanting to get this right, I did that. I did not really know why I was doing this…I think there is some scientific reason for this but whatever……….we brined.

I then went out and lit the Rapid Fire Chimney Starter and things were looking good. Until I started looking at the space on top of my grill area and a small warning bell started sounding in my brain.

I got my beer can and set it on the grill grate and realized that as I had the small Weber grill which had looked so huge to me a month ago…….that when I put the lid on, the beer can would be touching the lid and the lid would not close which means that I could not shove a chicken on the beer can.

I went back and looked at those videos and sho’ nuff, those grills were bigger.

Now what?

Not to be stopped, I decided this would not be a big deal, I would not use the top grill grate but instead I would remove it and would put a small baking pan on the bottom grate and then spread the coals around it thus still having indirect heating. (It seemed like such a good idea.) I would turn the pan upside down and put the chicken on it which would elevate the chicken some.

While the coals were heating, I shoved the chicken on the beer can and I was ready to go! So, once my coals had reached the desired heat, I placed my 8×8 baking pan on the bottom grate and attempted to pour my coals around the pan.

Aughghghghgh….the coals shoved the pan around and then got under the pan and I am trying to move all this around and it will not work. I finally pound on the pan with my tongs to make it as stable as I can and it is resting on top of some of the coals.

I press my chicken with the beer can onto the 8×8 pan. I am now worried that if some of the coals were to burn down that the pan would tilt and then the chicken would fall over.

(They never mention these kinds of things in videos. I must be watching the wrong videos.)

But the chicken looked pretty stable so I put the lid on and peek through the holes and I can see my chicken and it is almost touching the top but looks pretty good.

And then it started smoking and cooking and I am thinking ok this is good. I need to go inside and do the vegetables. Now, that also required a change of plans as I was originally going to cook the veggies on the grill next to the chicken but there was no grill grate for them so I decided I would roast them instead.

Which means I had to find my roasting pan—let’s see I have been here 2 1/2 years and probably used it 4 times. Now where did I put it?  As I live in a small place it only took me a couple of minutes to find it and I started roasting my veggies.

So I decided to go check on my chicken and I notice there is a lot of smoke coming from the grill …….. A LOT……….. and I think I will get my camera phone and take a picture to send to Chris and Allison…they will be sooo proud of me. So I take the picture of all the smoke coming from the grill and the I take off the lid to take a picture of my beer can chicken.

AAUUGGHGHGH—the chicken is in FLAMES!!

I mean FLAMES!!  There are FLAMES of FIRE.

I now know why it was smoking so much.

Two thoughts immediately went through my mind: 1.) If it takes a chicken 1.5 hours to cook via indirect cooking, did I just take 30 minutes off the cooking time as this appears to be direct cooking to me and 2.) Please God do not let any of my 80+ year old neighbors look out their window now–they will call the fire department that is 2 blocks down the road. As much as I want to meet a cute fireman, this is NOT the time.

So I am running around my condo looking for my spritzer water bottle, trying to put out the flames while at the same time taking a picture of all of this………..sad but true. My life is so pitiful….let’s take a picture of a flaming chicken to share with friends and put on Facebook later while trying to not burn my condo down and set my smoke detector alarm off again….this time for real.

I put out the flames, get the chicken off the grill and regroup. It is now a pitiful looking chicken–charred and blackened with a charred beer can shoved in its innards.

I realize my mistake…I had set the chicken on the bottom side of the pan but when the drippings fell from the chicken, they rolled down the pan into the coals which triggered the flames.

If I had set the chicken in an additional pan to catch the drippings, then I could have avoided the flame issue.

Too late now.

I finally decided to let it cook an old fashioned way–I put the top grate back in and place the chicken horizontally on the grate and I put a pan under it to catch the drips. As it was 30 minutes into cooking now, I decided to let it cook 30 more minutes.

That at first appeared to be mistake–I should have just checked the temperature at that point. Chicken is done at 165 degrees and when I brought it in 30 minutes later, the temperature said 197 degrees (I think it was more, it is just that I think the thermometer only goes that got to 197 degrees and just quit. )

You know how they say you should let your meat rest before you cut it……this poor chicken did not need to rest………… had surrendered and was totally done. But I let it rest for 30 minutes to give it time to recover and fixed my plate and what a hoot———-the chicken actually tasted good.

I am now suspicious that the thermometer was real near the beer can which skewed the temperature.

Who knows? All I know is that finally at 9:30 PM I had a very nice meal of beer can chicken, roasted vegetables, sautéed asparagus and black bean-corn salsa with my wine cocktail.

I often reflect that my life has not turned out how I thought it would——as I have shared with many of you—I never expected to be a full time working divorced woman at age 60+.  And I never expected life to become such a mix of small adventures and quirky challenges.

However, it is and I love it and as long as I can laugh and share it with others, then all is good.

But this event does make me wonder…………should I be looking for a gentleman caller that is happy with order-out pizza? I could offer to buy the beer—-for us to drink, of course.


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