Monday, July 25, 2011

Coq Au Can

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How's this for an old-school recipe? Yet again faced with the conundrum of what to do with a whole chicken, I decided to make one of the most basic (and popular) recipes favored by BBQ chefs across America. Also called Beer Can Chicken or Beer Butt Chicken, this recipe is simple and presents great results.

The first thing I did was decide what I wanted to use to flavor the chicken. I could have used just the beer, but what's the fun in that? So I used onion, jalapeno, garlic, bay, and pepper. Everything was cut small enough to be able to fit inside the can.

We usually don't drink beer from a can. But Coq Au Can needs a can! My solution was to drink a soda, wash the can really, really well, and then fill it with beer. I also cut part of the top off, to help the beer escape the can more easily.

The flavor ingredients were placed inside the can.

Here's my beer of choice--Leinie's Red. It's a Vienna-Style Lager, very malty.

Here's where personal choice comes into play. Some folks out there in Internet land swear that you should use a flavorful lager. Others will tell you a pale ale (especially an IPA) will be ideal. A few people note that dark beers, like stouts, will produce bitter results. Still others will insist that adding the beer will do nothing at all in terms of flavor and to just use water so good beer doesn't go to waste.

Just my observation--I didn't get an overpowering flavor of beer. I do think there was a slight beer-y flavor, and the chicken was amazingly moist. But I think all the chicken we get from Painted Hill is amazingly moist. And I would have used this style beer anyway, because it's what we have in the house to drink. I wouldn't go out and specifically buy a Budweiser just for this. So do whatever you choose, it's your beer and your chicken.

Anyhow, I poured the beer into the can, nearly to the top.

Since the can already had some ingredients in it, not all the beer from the bottle fit in the can.

So I drank what was left. And maybe I opened a second bottle of beer. Just to make sure that this batch of beer was okay.

After my short break, I unwrapped the chicken and gave it a quick rinse in the sink. Then I patted it dry.

I threw it in a big plastic bag and sprinkled it generously with my BBQ Chicken Dry Rub.

Yum yum yum.

You could let your chicken marinate in the rub, or you could get it cooking right away.

When you're ready to cook the chicken, give the can a good spray-down with some cooking spray. Don't want it sticking to the chicken when it's full of hot liquid!

Pick out a nice, sturdy, flat pan for your chicken to sit in, too.

Fold the chicken's wings down so they don't burn, and then slide the chicken onto the can. Your chicken will look less like a chicken and more like a violated prisoner.

Your oven should be preheated to 350F. You'll likely have to move your oven racks around to fit an upright chicken.

Conversely, you could do the chicken on the grill. I love the way grilled chicken tastes--however, I dislike using my grill as an oven, as we have a propane tank and I'm a bit stingy with it. So I used the oven.

I cracked the oven every 15 minutes to baste the chicken. There should be plenty of liquid to baste with.

Here's what the chicken looked like after its hour of cook time.

Carefully separate the chicken from the can. You may need a kitchen helper for this. You for sure don't want to burn yourself with the hot beer.

Now it just looks like it's kicking back and relaxing.

The taste of this moist, rich chicken will haunt you so much you might have to make it again the next day. And the next. And perhaps again after that. I loved it, and so will you!

Recipe: Coq Au Can

4-5 lb. chicken, whole
4-6 tbsp. BBQ Chicken Dry Rub (recipe here)
1 can beer (or 1 bottle beer and one clean, empty can)
1 large bay leaf
2 garlic cloves
1 very small onion (or 1/4-1/5 regular onion), cut into chunks
small palmful whole peppercorns
1/3 fresh jalapeno

Wash chicken (inside and out); dry thoroughly. Rub the outside of the chicken with the dry rub. Let marinate for up to 24 hours, if desired.

Carefully cut most of the top of the can off. Empty enough beer from the can to fit bay leaf, garlic, onion pieces, peppercorns, and jalapeno.

Spray outside of can (and baking sheet) very well with nonstick spray. Fold the ends of the chicken's wings underneath themselves to prevent burning. Carefully hold the chicken upright (legs down) and insert the can into the chicken cavity. Adjust chicken and/or can to maximize stability.

Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange racks to accommodate an upright chicken. Bake chicken for 1 hour or until cooked completely. Baste entire chicken every 15 minutes with pan drippings.

Carefully separate chicken from can, discarding hot liquid. Let chicken rest 10-15 minutes before cutting.

1 comment:

  1. My dad made this once. I think he used an amber beer. Best chicken ever.