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Cooking Tests: Beer Can Chicken
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Steve in Kentucky
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:02 pm    Post subject: Beer vs. Water Can Chicken Reply with quote

The original article was about determining whether using beer (instead of just water) makes a difference so I want to comment on that, not debate the author's beer choice*. I too have wondered how much it matters. But, I have used different liquids and achieved different results with the same spice recipe (Steven Raichlen's "The One and Only Beer-Can Chicken"), which by the way, is the beer can chicken recipe we always come back to after we have tried other spice rubs/methods. In his recipe, he states "You can also barbecue a chicken on a can of cola, lemon-lime soda, or root beer." We decided to try this and made two chickens for a family get-together. With two reformed alcoholics as in-laws, my wife would never let me serve "beer" can chicken. So, on one, we used a lemon lime soda (e.g. Sprite) and the other a root beer; otherwise, they were identical. Both worked well. They were slightly different but we couldn't tell which was which. *If you recall, the original author's beer choice was primarily driven by his desire to buy just a single can of beer. Remember, if you don't have a can, you can always pour your favorite beer into an empty soda pop can; I am yet to have a chicken complain!!! Enjoy!
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Gryndyl
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:04 am    Post subject: A lot of you missed the point here. Reply with quote

The reason the recipe for beer can chicken exists in the first place is because it was a recipe that depended on using a 16 ounce aluminum can. What was in the can was irrelevant. It's just that the only thing that came in 16 ounce cans was crappy mass market beer.

Beer that comes in 16 oz cans is generally not of the sort that have enough flavor to produce any discernible taste difference from water, nor was that an expectation of the original recipes. It was just a method of holding a chicken vertical and steaming the inside with spices.

Now that we have commercial versions of the beer can stand as well as a much broader access to beer varieties it's much easier to play around and try and use a strong enough beer to add some beer flavor. If beer flavor is what you're looking for, however, you'd be better off using it as a basting base.
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gregtyndall
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've tried a lot of different liquids including a vinegar based bbq sauce and can never tell that it makes a difference. So, I just drink the beer and put water in the can.
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majkfngrs
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:51 pm    Post subject: beer can chicken Reply with quote

great test, but I cook them on thrones on my smoker at about 250 degrees.
I have found that brining does change the taste but my chickens get rubbed under the skin with a mixture of herbs and a dry rub (commercial) on top of olive oil for the skin. The mixture in the thrones is about 50-50 dos equis dark and barbecue sauce. A woman I worked with recomends an inexpensive aromatic wine in the thrones, but I haven"t tried that yet. After cooking, we pull the chicken and serve with a light honey-mustard barbecue sauce and haven't had a dry chicken yet, even without the sauce. My experience has been that the thrones contain a mixture of barbecue sauce and chicken fat after cooking. I think the real advantage of cooking "beer can" is that you are cooking from the inside as well as the outside and the fact that you are introducing moisture to what is normally a "dry" cook process. I cannot discern any beer taste in the chickens.
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Rich Shewmaker
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 4:04 am    Post subject: "Beer Can" Chicken Reply with quote

I have a couple of twists on this recipe. First, most well equipped kitchens already have what is needed to roast a chicken upright. I use the removable center section of an angel food cake pan, placed on a sheet pan. Second, all the recipes I've seen for upright roasted chicken mount the chicken legs down. I suggest putting the chicken on the device breast side down. The biggest problem with roasting a chicken is that the breast meat cooks faster than the thighs and legs, and tends to dry out. Placing the dark meat at the top exposes it to more radiant heat and allows it to cook faster while the Breast is protected by the pan. Also, gravity is on our side, pulling the juices down into the white meat and helping keep it juicy. I tie the tips of the drumsticks together and tuck the wingtips behind the back of the bird. No other trussing is necessary. I also like the Cook's Illustrated technique of drying the skin in the refrigerator for a day with a dusting of baking soda to ensure crispness.
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CuDenny



Joined: 13 Dec 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree choosing a Bud as "beer" pretty much negates the findings as Bud is closer to water than it is to beer. I have never noticed a beer can chicken recipe mention washing the can first, not ever. Certainly the heat of the oven would likely take care of the bacteria on the can, but really, isn't this just something you would want to do? The chicken itself has potentially vast more bacteria than a beer can, but most people at least rinse the chicken under running water, like that does anything. Anyway, cans are packaging that protect the contents, but nothing protects the outside of the can from anything; so wash your can.

My experience with beer can chicken produced tasty results, but issues with the chicken leaning over and falling during cooking. The up-righted chicken was wobbly, as if the beer was having the usual effect, and only after much manhandling would it stay upright in the cast iron pan.

Still, the results were no better than brining, though more adventurous.
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CuDenny



Joined: 13 Dec 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:48 am    Post subject: Re: "Beer Can" Chicken Reply with quote

Rich Shewmaker wrote:
The biggest problem with roasting a chicken is that the breast meat cooks faster than the thighs and legs, and tends to dry out. Placing the dark meat at the top exposes it to more radiant heat and allows it to cook faster while the Breast is protected by the pan. Also, gravity is on our side, pulling the juices down into the white meat and helping keep it juicy. I tie the tips of the drumsticks together and tuck the wingtips behind the back of the bird.


Okay ...not sure about the baking soda bit, but here I sit impressed at genius. Disbelief
I don't even want to try beer can chicken again, well maybe with wine this time, but definitely I am going to try this.
Cool
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
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Location: central PA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

>>not sure about the baking soda bit

it's a desiccant, as is plain old salt and many other compounds.
the cited idea is for crispness - but I have also read a number of comments about baking soda "contributing / enhancing" browning with specific regard to baking.

which is actually something I'm playing with at the moment - I'm experimenting with a really good drop biscuit recipe - my complaint is that it does not brown well. I've been through some bake temp experiments, now working on more baking soda.....
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cookingalot
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:35 pm    Post subject: beer can chicken Reply with quote Delete this post

of course if you use butt-wip-er its not going to fast good, that stuff is made from the horse pee that pulls the carriage in the commercials you always see...

you need a good beer for a great tasting bird, and don't cook them in the same oven at the same time if your using two different recipes.
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