Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
After one false start , my Pro Q Frontier Smoker was fired up last weekend for that old barbecue staple, beer can chicken. Unlike say brisket or ribs the cook time is not too long at around 3.5 hours for the average sized bird ( but more on this later). So this was deemed a good one to try first.
As the name suggests the recipe does usually involve the use of a beer can with this having the dual purpose of enabling the chicken to sit upright (the can goes up the rear end into the cavity) so as to get a more even cook and to keep the chicken nice and moist. From what I have read the contents of the can does not actually add any discernible flavour to the meat so I see no reason why could not use lager (Fosters has to be useful for something I suppose) as a substitute for proper beer (which is for drinking) or even a cola. If using a can, make sure that you open it (please, please, please remember to do this) and pour out an inch or so of the liquid (if sensible by drinking it, unless it’s Fosters in which case down the sink it goes). As my Pro Q Frontier smoker has a water bowl I dispensed with the beer can (hence the title of the post- although I could have used beer in\added it to the water bowl) and used a vertical chicken roaster instead.
Both the beer can and the vertical roaster methods can be used in a conventional oven, as well as on a barbecue/smoker (but where’s the fun in that).
So to the chicken, which was a bruiser weighing in at 2kg.
I made up a rub which consisted of the following:-
• 1 tablespoon of paprika;
• 1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar;
• 1 tablespoon of chilli powder ( go for whatever heat you like );
• 1 tablespoon of salt ( I used Maldon sea salt);
• 1\2 tablespoon of granulated garlic;
•1 teaspoon of onion powder; and
•1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
This was all mixed well together and then it was time to get down and dirty with it on the chicken. I massaged the rub liberally all over, trying my best to get it into all the nocks and crannies
until the chicken had a good even coating. I also made sure I put a good amount actually inside the cavity. Once this was done I placed the chicken (in a zip lock food bag ) in the fridge and left it overnight (you could do a couple of hours only, but overnight is best I think). This allows the rub to really permeate into the chicken.
The chicken was then taken out of the fridge to get it up to room temperature and, in the mean time, the Pro Q Smoker was prepped to get the temperature up to around the 215 °F mark.
As I mentioned earlier you can use most barbecues for this ( as long as it has a lid) by using the indirect heat method. This is done by ensuring the meat is not directly over the hot coals\ gas/ burner. Before I got the Pro Q I achieved this by putting the coals on one side of the bowl in my kettle barbie and a water (liquid) filled deep tin foil tray on the other side with the food on the grate directly above the foil tray and another water filled tray on the grate above the hot coals. I will do a post, with pictures, shortly on using the indirect heat method in a standard barbie.
I popped the chicken on the vertical roaster and then into the Pro Q and at same time added apple wood chips (pre soaked and put in a fire box) to the hot coals. Make sure you have enough fuel (I used Australian heat beads as these last upwards of 4 hours).
With the hard work done, what to do for the next 3.5 plus hours (walk the dogs is what) as it needed very little attention. Just a question of keeping an eye on the temperature periodically as well as the level of liquid in the water bowl (if use actual can then no need as can’t check level can You). I resisted the temptation to open the lid as this would have resulted in a loss of heat and an elongated cook time.
After 3.5 hours I checked the temperature in the breast and thigh areas, with these needing to be at least 165 ° F for the breast and 175°F for the thigh. As the key in determining if is done is the internal temperature and not the time, I used a meat probe and would strongly recommend using one as my chicken needed nearly another hour to get up to the required temperature ( it was 2kg so quite a large bird). As is chicken can’t be too careful and last thing want is undercooked meat.
So to the finished product – somewhat of a bronzed Adonis I thought.
One point to note is don’t expect a crispy skin as the indirect heat method of cooking is not conducive to this.
This was a relatively easy start to my home smoking adventures on the Pro Q Frontier and the result was a super moist bird with a lovely smokey flavour (if I say so myself ). Even the wife (AKA Mrs SF) was impressed and that is no mean feat I can tell you.
It was lovely, hot off the smoker, with a jacket spud and coleslaw and also great cold ( went beautifully with raw thinly sliced fennel in a salad for my lunches in the week).