Several years ago, I decided I was going to try out beer can chicken. You know, the cooking method wherein you jam a half-empty beer can up in the cavity of a chicken and roast it on the grill. Trouble was, at that time, it was difficult to find “good” beer in cans. Chef J and I tend to lean more towards really hoppy IPAs and not towards watery American pilsners, the only thing that was readily available in cans at that time. But I decided maybe, just maybe, I’d go to the sketchy convenience store where you can buy single beers and give it a shot. But I had no idea how to go about it so I started looking online. They all sounded pretty awful although I know they are supposed to taste amazing.
Then I stumbled upon Family Style Food and their recipe for Tuscan Beer Can Chicken. It had everything I wanted and none of the crappy beer that I didn’t. This particular recipe involved a bit of prosecco (sparkling Italian wine akin to champagne) and lots of rosemary. For some reason, I happened to have a bottle of prosecco in the refrigerator and we have a mutant rosemary plant that is about the size of a truck so I decided to give it a shot. I only had to buy one can of soda so that I’d have a can to use. No waste of crappy beer.
Over time, I’ve adapted the recipe to include a bit of a brine ahead of time. You can do it morning of or just a few hours before – any excuse to start sipping that prosecco, right? Don’t feel like you have to brine your bird though. If you don’t have time, you can absolutely skip that step and move straight to the rub and the cooking. I do find that sometimes the chicken can be a bit tippy on the grill so, after making this a few times, I bought one of those one use kitchen gadgets that I usually hate so much. But the beer can chicken rack has been a god send. No big deal if you don’t have one. I just find that it stabilizes the chicken on the grill a bit more.
We are moving into full on grilling season here in the Lowcountry and this was a good way to kick it off. The Boy and I joined The Ps for a painting lesson and dinner this past Sunday night (Chef J had to work I’m afraid). Sipping prosecco while painting with an actual artist made for a wonderful early spring evening.
Prosecco Grilled Chicken
- 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs
For the brine:
- 1/2 C brown sugar
- 1/2 C coarse kosher salt
- 1 C water
- 1 large stem rosemary, cut into 3 or four pieces
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 t black peppercorns
- 1 C prosecco
- lots of ice water
For the rub and the roasting liquid
- 3 T brown sugar
- 3 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 T cracked black pepper
- 2 t coarse kosher salt
- 1 t fennel seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
- 1 C prosecco
- One empty 12 oz beer or soda can, rinsed and with a few holes poked in the top)
If you plan to brine chicken, bring water to a boil and stir in salt and sugar until completely dissolved. Turn off heat and add in herbs, seasonings and prosecco and allow to cool completely. Place chicken in a large container and pour brining liquid over it. Add ice and water until it is completely submerged. Allow to brine for 2-3 hours or just overnight. Remove chicken from brine, pat dry and allow to come to room temp before beginning next step.
Heat one side of your gas grill to medium or pile hot coals on one side of the grill with a drip pan on the other. It should be about 325-350F.
Combine all rub/roasting ingredients except prosecco in a bowl. Mash together until well combined into a bit of a paste. Put 2 T of the rub in your empty can and top off with prosecco to about half full. Rub the remaining paste on and under the skin of the chicken. Carefully lower the cavity of the chicken onto the can (this is where my gadget comes in handy). I find that spraying the can with a bit of non-stick spray first can help later.
Place chicken over the drip pan and close grill. Cook for about one hour, rotating only occasionally if one side starts to scorch. Using an instant read thermometer, check the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh (without touching the bone). It is done when skin is nice and crispy and thermometer reads 165-170F. Remove from grill (I find it helpful to take a baking dish out the grill with you at this point) and let rest for 10-15 minutes before removing the can.
Carve and serve with grilled grapes and grilled roasted potatoes and maybe a nice salad.