When it comes to summer food pairings, nothing beats the season for beer and barbecue. So we decided to bring the two together for the grilling sensation of beer can chicken. Shake off the novelty and kitschy apparatus you may have seen, because this pairing actually works! Beer serves for both function and flavour in this recipe, producing tender and juicy chicken while imparting seasoned and characterful flavour.
Here's also an opportunity to try out and support quality local craft brews. We recommend for this recipe a light to medium ale. Try a malty brown ale like Neustadt 10W30, the hoppy West coast style pale ale 'Crazy Canuck' from Great Lakes Brewery, or go gluten-free with your beer with the option from Nickle Brook Brewery's light and glutenless ale (all the beers are homegrown Ontario brews and easily found at the LCBO).
Once you've picked out your choice of beer, all you need is a chicken (approximately 5 pounds) and a generous helping of your favourite barbecue spice rub. If you're crafty enough to make your own rub, check out this recipe from the Toronto Star.
1) Start by removing the neck and insides of the chicken and pat dry with paper towels
2) Coat the chicken with a light layer of olive oil and a generous rub down of barbecue seasoning
3) This is the fun part: open the can of beer and take a sip or two (about 2-3 ounces worth). Using a bottle/juice can opener, make another hole into the top of the can. Fit the bird upside down onto the beer can so that it is secure and sitting upright on its own
4) Prepare the grill by making a trough of the coals and fitting a foil drip tray to catch drippings
5) Set the chicken standing up with beer can side down, on a medium-high grill on indirect heat
6) Cook for approximately 1.5 hours or when the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. Be careful when transferring the chicken off the grill as the beer can and juices will be hot
7) Allow to rest for 10 minutes and carve. Serve with the usual barbecue fixin' accompaniments.
This recipe was inspired by Imbibe Magazine. Be creative and put your own twist to the recipe by changing up the style of beer, flavour profile of the spice rub and even adding some of the spice into the beer can before stuffing.