I am pleading guilty on multiple counts of a major dinner party faux pas:
5. Cooking something that you’ve never cooked before. (I would also say I have been guilty of #8, especially at parties for two.)
And of course, this time I had to drag B. into the mix...
The dinner party in question was for one of B.'s friends, and one of her friends who is here from Japan to learn English. B. wanted to grill something, and somehow that evolved into beer can chicken, then one with a spice rub to boot.
It starts off easy - first you throw a bunch of spices, garlic and oil together in a food processor and whirr it into a fragrant, copper-coloured rub.
Then you spread it all over the insides and outsides of your chicken and wait until all the flavour has had to seep through all the little nooks and crannies in your chook.
When you're ready, you seat it on top of your beer can (we chose Big Rock Gopher Lager - as per my blog browsing, the verdict is still out on whether the beer makes a difference. Thoughts?)
There was a bit of a panic here as we feared that our chicken was too tall. We had to get rid of our beer can holder contraption (but we kept the dish) and flip over our grill, but in the end, it fit. *Phew!*
At the time, we didn't know about these "dinner party" rules, but we may have subconsciously as we paired the chicken with a recipe we are very familiar with - our Greek Orzo Salad, without the chicken.
Despite the "faux pas", our dinner was well received (possibly because one of our guests got a little tipsy!) and we were spoiled with dessert - an assortment of cream puffs from Cruffs.
Uzbek Beer Can Chicken
Adapted from Serious Eats/Planet Barbecue
- 1 chicken, about 3½ - 4 lb (1.6 - 1.8 kg)
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp (10 mL) coarse salt
- 2 tsp (10 mL) sweet paprika
- 2 tsp (10 mL) turmeric
- 2 tsp (10 mL) coriander
- 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
- 1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
- ¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 can beer, or club soda, if you are not a beer drinker
*At this point, you can remove the skin from the chicken, if desired (but risk losing a lot of yummy flavour!) You can pull most of it off with your fingers; use a paring knife to cut the skin away from the wings and ends of the drumsticks.
- Prep the chicken: Remove and discard the fat just inside the neck and body cavities of the chicken. Remove the package of giblets and set it aside for another use. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water, then drain and blot it dry, inside and out, with paper towels.* Make two deep slashes to the bone in both sides of the chicken breast and in each leg and thigh so that the spices and heat will penetrate the meat more easily.
- Make the spice paste: Place the garlic, ginger, salt, paprika, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and pepper in food processor (a mini processor works better than a full-size processor, but you can use a full-size processor if you scrape down the side of the bowl often with a rubber spatula). Run the processor until the garlic and ginger are finely chopped, then gradually add the oil and puree to a smooth paste. If you don't have a food processor, mix spices together in a mortar and pound them into a smooth paste with the pestle, then gradually work in the oil.
- Marinate the bird: Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the tandoori paste into the neck and body cavities of the bird, spreading it around with the spatula. Place the bird in a baking dish or aluminum foil pan just large enough to hold it. Spread the remaining spice paste over the chicken on all sides. (Alternatively, you can marinate the bird in a large, heavy-duty, resealable plastic bag.) Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 6 hours or as long as 24; the longer it marinates, the richer the flavor will be.
- Prep the grill: Set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium.
- Impale the chicken!: Pop the tab off the can and remove half of the beer or club soda using your preferred method. Using a church key–style can opener, make 2 additional holes in the top. If you are using a beer-can chicken roaster (and your barbecue is tall enough to accommodate a chicken sitting on it), pour half of the club soda or beer into it. Remove the chicken from the marinade, setting aside any remaining marinade. Hold the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom, and position the bird on the can or chicken roaster so that it fits snugly into the cavity. If you are using a can, pull the legs forward to form a sort of tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear “leg” of the tripod is the can. You don’t need to do this if you are using a chicken roaster. Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back. Alternatively, truss the bird with butcher’s string or a bamboo skewer.
- Roast the chicken: Place the chicken-on-a-can in the center of the grate over the drip pan and away from the heat. Spoon any remaining marinade over the chicken, then cover the grill. Grill the chicken until it is handsomely browned and cooked through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or when the internal temperature (insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh) is about 170°F (77˚C). (Please note that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recommends that whole chicken be cook to 185˚F/85˚C.) If the top of the bird starts to brown too much, loosely cover it with a small piece of aluminum foil.
- Serve and eat the chicken: Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Carefully lift the chicken off the can or roaster, if using. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.Nutrition Info (per 1/6 chicken, with skin): 328 calories, 21 g fat (5 g saturated, 0 g trans), 87 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrate (1 g fibre, 0 g sugar), 28 g protein, 858 mg sodium. An excellent source of niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6 and selenium. A good source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin E, iron, phosphorus and zinc.