taste: beer can chicken

What do you get if you stick a can of Guinness up a chicken’s butt? It’s not a joke, I swear, though it looks like one:

the ignominy...

The answer is – moist, tender chicken. And a certain amount of kitchen hilarity. What’s not to love? Anyway, once again proving I am way more in tune with Martha than I have any right or desire to be, even the venerable lady herself featured beer-can chicken in her last issue of [Is] Martha Stewart Living [?] Although I searched high and low on her site, which infuriatingly doesn’t let you search by date or magazine issue, I can find no evidence of this, although I know I read it. However, our actual inspiration came from Canada, in shape of a Christmas gift that looks like a beer can itself, and contains three packets of spice for this dish (only three!! We are going to have to restock.) It is from Gourmet Village, and although there is (US only) online ordering, I couldn’t find the beer can on the site. So you will need to approximate your own, and you’ll need 3tbsp of any pungent, barbecue rub – spices of your choice mixed with salt, pepper and onion powder. And because the internet is wonderful, I discovered the Beer Can Chicken Blog. Resources, recipes, and “Promoting Beer Can Chicken Awareness 24/7.” I stand back, humbly.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take one chicken – about 4lb/2kg in weight, and preferably thoroughly spoiled in her upbringing by lots of access to air and grass. If she has giblets and a neck, remove them, and rinse and pat her dry.

Combine 2tbsp seasoning with about 2tsp olive oil in a bowl, and rub the bird all over with the mixture, getting as much under the skin and inside as you can.

Open a 12oz can of beer – preferably Guinness or other stout (please don’t humiliate your chicken, or yourself, with Bud Light.) Half-empty the can, reserving the beer, and punch a couple of extra holes in the top. Be warned – a standard Guinness can is a bit tall (14.5oz) for this, and our bird toppled over. No lasting damage was done, so if that’s all you have, go ahead, but if you can find a nice squat 12oz can, so much the better.

Mix up the rest of your seasoning (about 1tbsp) with 3 tbsp ketchup (in case you thought this recipe couldn’t get any classier) and add to the beer. Balance the bird, Withnail & I style,* on the can in a sturdy roasting tray, and place in the oven on a low shelf, removing the upper shelves so the bird has space to sit comfortably.

Roast away, for about an hour and a half, depending on your oven and your bird. When she’s done, lift the bird out of the oven and let her sit on the can for 10 minutes or so. Point, laugh, and take pictures if you are a meanie like me. Remove the can before you carve the bird, though, or she will have the last laugh.

To make gravy, pour the reserved half of your Guinness can – or open a new one if you drank that one – into the roasting pan over two burners, and scrape up the bits. Stir and thicken with flour if necessary, until you have a good gravy consistency. Strain into a jug and serve with the bird, and some roast potatoes and veg of your choice.

* If you don’t get this reference, stop what you are doing right now, go to  your preferred renter/vendor/distributor of fine movies, watch this, and come back to me when you’ve learned your lesson.

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