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Beer Can Chicken

Elizabeth Karmel Chef Elizabeth Karmel

Anyone who knows me, knows that Beer-Can Chicken is my “go-to” weeknight dinner and my comfort food.  It never fails to satisfy.  The skin is crispy and burnished by the convected heat of the grill.  But that’s not all, the chicken is tender, juicy and has a slightly smoky but pure chicken flavor that is accentuated by the steamed beer.

About Elizabeth Karmel

Chef, Author, Entrepreneur, Media Personality North Carolina native Elizabeth Karmel, a.k.a. Grill Girl, is a nationally respected authority on grilling, barbecue and Southern food. Karmel is the founder of the nearly two decade-old, gender-breaking GirlsattheGrill.com.  Follow her @GrillGirl, Instagram @ElizabethKarmel and like her Facebook page.

Elizabeth Karmel

Elizabeth Karmel

Anyone who knows me, knows that Beer-Can Chicken is my “go-to” weeknight dinner and my comfort food.  It never fails to satisfy.  The skin is crispy and burnished by the convected heat of the grill.  But that’s not all, the chicken is tender, juicy and has a slightly smoky but pure chicken flavor that is accentuated by the steamed beer.

I make it almost once a week in the fall and winter.  What I serve with it varies based on what’s in season, but my favorite back-pocket meal is beer-can chicken, grilled asparagus, sweet potatoes and cornbread.  If you know how to make beer-can chicken, you will always be able to make a great grilled meal for yourself, and/or your friends and family.

For me, it is the best way to roast a whole chicken and is a beloved method.  There are people who say that the beer doesn’t have anything to do with it, but the fact that it is cooked in a vertical position does. And, the fact that using a beer can or a chicken sitter is the easiest way to do this is all I need to keep doing it and get a great tasting grill-roasted chicken.  You can actually also make Beer-can Chicken in an oven if you set the chicken in a pan to catch the drippings.

The key to beer-can chicken and in my opinion, great grilling, is indirect heat. And to understand indirect heat, you must understand direct heat.  Once you understand the difference between direct and indirect heat and when to use it, you will be able to cook anything.  I use indirect heat or a combination of the two [Combo Cooking*] at least 80% of the time that I use my grill.

There are two major grilling methods and they can be defined this way:

DIRECT GRILLING means that you put the food directly over the heat source—similar to broiling in your oven.

INDIRECT GRILLING means that the heat is on either side of the food and the burners are turned off under the food—similar to roasting and baking.

My general rule of thumb is:

— If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use the DIRECT METHOD

— If the food takes more than 20 minutes to cook, use the INDIRECT METHOD

*Once you’ve mastered cooking by Direct and Indirect heat, you are ready for the COMBO method.  It is exactly what it sounds like.  A combo-nation of the Direct and Indirect methods.  It is as simple as searing the food over direct heat and finishing (cooking) over indirect heat.  This technique works well for everything from chops and steaks to whole tenderloins and even slices of denser vegetables such as sweet potatoes.  It is a time honored and well-respected tradition and the outdoor grill version of the way most restaurants chefs cook almost everything—searing on the stovetop and finishing the dish in the oven.

Now that you know the difference between direct and indirect cooking and how to use it, you are ready to make beer-can chicken.  I guarantee that if you make it once, you’ll make it over and over again and it will become an instant family favorite!  I truly believe that it is the best way to prepare a roasted chicken, bar none!

Follow Elizabeth on Instagram @ELIZABETHKARMEL

Did you make this recipe? Tag @BellandEvans on Instagram and hashtag it #TheExcellentChicken

Comments

  1. Debbie says:

    What about putting a can of beer in the center of the chicken sitter with the chicken on top of the sitter? Since I don’t have a bbq, what is your oven method please?

    1. From Chef Karmel: In an oven, you can place the chicken on the beer can just like the grill, but place it in a cake pan or a quarter sheet pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the oven rack in the lower middle of the oven so that the chicken has plenty of space and isn‘t too close to the top of the oven. Place the pan with the beer-can chicken in it carefully in the middle of the oven rack, and close the oven door. Roast for about an hour and 15 minutes—again, depending on the size of the chicken. The grill cooks food faster than the oven because it cooks like a convection oven, so it is a good idea to use a meat thermometer.

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