Friday, April 4, 2014
How to Make Beer-Can Chicken on a Smoker
Ever since moving out to the RV-Que, Greg has been smoking whole chickens fairly regularly. It's extremely easy and takes very little work, other than building a good fire and maintaining a steady temperature, which is not difficult on fair, calm days although it is a little trickier if it's windy, very cold or rainy.
The following are Greg's step-by-step, fool-proof instructions for smoked beer can chicken:
1. Start with a large, plump, fresh or completely thawed chicken -- no old scrawny birds, because they're more likely to dry out. Also, don't forget to remove the packet of gizzards and any other items that may be in the cavity!
2. Despite the name, do NOT use a real beer can to cook the chicken. Aluminum tastes bad in chicken, plus you don't want any chemical residues from coatings or paint from the can. Instead, use a stainless steel beer can chicken roaster, which is much sturdier and won't impart any "off" flavors or unwanted substances -- plus you can fill it with any kind of beer, or with wine, juice or other liquid as well as seasonings such as garlic cloves or citrus slices (lemon, lime, orange).
3. Choose the right wood for smoking chicken: Hickory, maple, and any fruit wood are appropriate because they will add pleasantly mellow smokiness and complementary sweet or bright notes without overpowering the natural flavor of the chicken or the spices in your rub. Mesquite generally is too harsh and strong.
5. Use a full-flavored rub (rather than a mild or subtle one) that can stand up to smoking, such as Bone Suckin' Rub, American Style BBQ Chicken Rub, or Jim's Own Pincho Rub, and generously pat it all over the whole chicken.
6. Ignite the wood in a chimney starter and let it burn until you have nice hot coals, then transfer the coals into your smoker. When the smoker temperature hits 300°F, you're now ready fill your "beer can" roaster cup with beer (or other liquid), slide the chicken upright onto it, and place it in the center of your smoker.
7. Let the chicken cook on the smoker until your meat thermometer reads 180°F when inserted in a thigh and in the breast (don't let the probe hit a bone or you'll get an inaccurately high reading). This will take around 3 to 4 hours, depending on weather conditions. You should periodically check the temperature of your smoker: If it dips too far below 300°F, you may need to add more hot coals -- this is another time when a chimney starter comes in handy.
8. When the chicken is done, slide it off the can onto a plate and let it rest for a few minutes until it's cool enough to handle for cutting (or "pulling" if you're making pulled chicken BBQ). Letting the smoked chicken rest also allows the juices to settle, for the moistest, richest flavor.