Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Beer Can Chicken


Jason Perlow
 Share

Recommended Posts

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/8/6/20560/73199

"Much as I might joke about it, this really is a remarkably consistent and successful technique for cooking chicken. For many folks who like to cook, roasting or otherwise preparing a whole chicken is the real test of someone who knows what they're doing. Ending up with a chicken where the white meat and dark meat are both thoroughly cooked, but they're both moist, and the dark meat's not greasy while the white meat isn't dry, is no simple thing."

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not tried this method myself, but I know people who have and they rave about it. It just bothers me, for some reason, to actually purchase a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer :biggrin:

But - last night I was watching BBQ Bootcamp with Steven Raichlin on FN, and I'm thinking I may have to give up and try it, just to see what all the fuss is about. I like to brine my chickens (wet or dry) before roasting, but I'm always willing to give something new a try.

Here's Raichlin's version. It's probably worth a shot. The ingredients are inexpensive, the technique couldn't be more simple.

Beer Can Chicken

Edited by TuWanda (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was on my menu for my supper club. It was fantastic and a hit with our group. I added a lime wedge in the beer can and after about 20 min of roasting, foil topped the necks for more steam. I did not to a honey/balsamic glaze and it was very moist and flavorful. Very fun summer party meal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't buy the beer can steam thing, I think it's a gimmick. I prefer to smoke my chicken cut up, there's more surface area for smoke penetration. If you use a water pan in your smoker you'll get just as much steam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't buy the beer can steam thing, I think it's a gimmick. I prefer to smoke my chicken cut up, there's more surface area for smoke penetration. If you use a water pan in your smoker you'll get just as much steam.

Are trying to get me to do this in a couple of weeks? :hmmm:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't buy the beer can steam thing, I think it's a gimmick. I prefer to smoke my chicken cut up, there's more surface area for smoke penetration. If you use a water pan in your smoker you'll get just as much steam.

You are probably right on this one. But a lot of people have an outdoor grill but not a smoker with water pan and, lacking your skill and exacting standards, will be able to produce a better tasting chicken with a beer can than without.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't buy the beer can steam thing, I think it's a gimmick. I prefer to smoke my chicken cut up, there's more surface area for smoke penetration. If you use a water pan in your smoker you'll get just as much steam.

It is a gimmick, and the liquid in the can doesn't steam enough to affect flavor or moistness, but for some reason the chicken does turn out very tasty. Cook's Illustrated did one of their pseudo-experiments a few years ago, with water in one can and beer in another, and judged the beer version better.

Still, I prefer to smoke chicken butterflied, for the reasons you mention.

A water pan in a smoker does not add appreciable moisture to the air.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't buy the beer can steam thing, I think it's a gimmick. I prefer to smoke my chicken cut up, there's more surface area for smoke penetration. If you use a water pan in your smoker you'll get just as much steam.

It is a gimmick, and the liquid in the can doesn't steam enough to affect flavor or moistness, but for some reason the chicken does turn out very tasty. Cook's Illustrated did one of their pseudo-experiments a few years ago, with water in one can and beer in another, and judged the beer version better.

Still, I prefer to smoke chicken butterflied, for the reasons you mention.

A water pan in a smoker does not add appreciable moisture to the air.

My theory is that since the chicken is forced open, and then has a highly conductive can stuck up its butt (not that the can does any cooking, but it is conductive enough not to get in the way of heat penetration), the chicken cooks from the inside and out. In its un-butterfiled state, a chicken cooks only from the outside in. Since it cooks quicker, there's less liquid loss. The fact that the thighs are closer to the heat than the breasts accounts for the even cooking, and from my point of view, is the best reason to use this method (though I usually butterfly, too.)

I suppose it's possible that a bit of moisture is released inside the bird (this could be tested by suspending a probe thermomter inside the can to see if it approaches boiling), and this would reduce surface evaporation, leaving the bird somewhat more moist. But I am dubious.

As for the results of the CI test, I suspect that even a modest deposition of airborne aroma molecules (steam is not necessary for this to happen -- beer smells like beer even at refrigerator temperatures) on the surface of the chicken would improve flavor.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My theory is that since the chicken is forced open, and then has a highly conductive can stuck up its butt (not that the can does any cooking, but it is conductive enough not to get in the way of heat penetration), the chicken cooks from the inside and out. In its un-butterfiled state, a chicken cooks only from the outside in. Since it cooks quicker, there's less liquid loss. The fact that the thighs are closer to the heat than the breasts accounts for the even cooking, and from my point of view, is the best reason to use this method (though I usually butterfly, too.)

I think you're right, Dave. Someday, I'll do a side-by-side cook: beer can (I actually use a ceramic 'chicken sitter') vs. vertical roaster.

Meanwhile, I'm butterflyin'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for the results of the CI test, I suspect that even a modest deposition of airborne aroma molecules (steam is not necessary for this to happen -- beer smells like beer even at refrigerator temperatures) on the surface of the chicken would improve flavor.

I recollect that CI tried various liquids...wine, beer, water, lemonade, etc. and decided that beer and water produced the best tasting chicken. Lemonade , apparently, made it taste actively nasty, so there must be some flavor transfer going on.

Sure, it's a gimmick...there are other better ways to cook a whole chicken on the grill; we butterfly. I haven't done this for at least a year, but I remember that it was kind of fun to jam a beer can into a chicken. And it was tender, juicy chicken.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I remember the lemonade too - yuck. A friend once did beer butt chicken with Tequiza - double yuck.

I agree, it's a fun way to do chicken (unless the can tips over on the grill!), and a great conversation piece - especially among Q-starved Manhattanites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmmm, I'm thinking I may have to try both the beer-can & a butterfly at the same time for my own test.

FWIW, I don't use beer-cans. I've a couple of ceramic pedestals that are the size of beer-cans but with a broader base. Much more difficult to tip over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A number of folks on the various BBQ lists have tried this and came to the same conclusions here... An amusing concept with marginal results at best.

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course grilling the chicken on an unopened beer can has the potential for entertainment... :shock:

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course grilling the chicken on an unopened beer can has the potential for entertainment...  :shock:

You are not kidding. I have an aquaintance that takes the prize for clueless. (Bless her heart!) She will call sometimes for tips when she is cooking something. So... She calls and is regaling me with this wonderful idea to sit a chicken on a beer can. I tell her that I have heard of it and ask her if she put anything into the beer.

"How would you put anything into a beer can?"

"Through the opening or make some more with a church key."

"Oh... You are supposed to open it?"

"I'll be right over."

I got there in time for the action. It wasn't pretty. There was a whump from inside of the Weber. The chicken was propelled up against the lid. Beer sprewed everywhere. Ashes and steam filled the inside of the Weber. She took it out, washed it off with the garden hose, added some more charcoal and continued on as if this was a normal occurrence. Like I said... Clueless. (Bless her heart.)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course grilling the chicken on an unopened beer can has the potential for entertainment...  :shock:

You are not kidding. I have an aquaintance that takes the prize for clueless. (Bless her heart!) She will call sometimes for tips when she is cooking something. So... She calls and is regaling me with this wonderful idea to sit a chicken on a beer can. I tell her that I have heard of it and ask her if she put anything into the beer.

"How would you put anything into a beer can?"

"Through the opening or make some more with a church key."

"Oh... You are supposed to open it?"

"I'll be right over."

I got there in time for the action. It wasn't pretty. There was a whump from inside of the Weber. The chicken was propelled up against the lid. Beer sprewed everywhere. Ashes and steam filled the inside of the Weber. She took it out, washed it off with the garden hose, added some more charcoal and continued on as if this was a normal occurrence. Like I said... Clueless. (Bless her heart.)

Fifi,

This sounds like a great beginning for the "people who should not be allowed around hot or sharp objects" thread.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was at her house one morning. She went outside to the patio and filled the coffee maker carafe from an outside faucet. I asked what that was all about.

"Oh, I always use the outside water. It is cheaper." :huh:

Back on topic.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nope. City main.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My theory is that since the chicken is forced open, and then has a highly conductive can stuck up its butt (not that the can does any cooking, but it is conductive enough not to get in the way of heat penetration), the chicken cooks from the inside and out.

Actually, this isn't quite true. Although aluminum is a fairly good conductor at 2.37 W/cm K, a beer can is pretty much all water, as the thin aluminum layer is too small to make any appreciable difference. The thermal conductivity of water is terrible, at around 0.06 W/cm K. Water also has a very high specific heat, which means that it takes a long time to heat up. The only way the inclusion of a beer can would provide a thermal advantage would be if it were already hot before it was stuffed inside the chicken. Otherwise, it would only increase the total thermal mass of the chicken to be cooked (similar to stuffing poultry) which can only be a negative unless extremely low cooking temperatures are used.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My theory is that since the chicken is forced open, and then has a highly conductive can stuck up its butt (not that the can does any cooking, but it is conductive enough not to get in the way of heat penetration), the chicken cooks from the inside and out.

Actually, this isn't quite true. Although aluminum is a fairly good conductor at 2.37 W/cm K, a beer can is pretty much all water, as the thin aluminum layer is too small to make any appreciable difference. The thermal conductivity of water is terrible, at around 0.06 W/cm K. Water also has a very high specific heat, which means that it takes a long time to heat up. The only way the inclusion of a beer can would provide a thermal advantage would be if it were already hot before it was stuffed inside the chicken. Otherwise, it would only increase the total thermal mass of the chicken to be cooked (similar to stuffing poultry) which can only be a negative unless extremely low cooking temperatures are used.

Yeah, I've been thinking about it ever since I posted, and I agree with your analysis.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...