A gift basket seemed the most sensible gift for Grandfather. My dad cooks for himself, enjoys delectable food treats, and loves to share. Yes, gift baskets are great gifts for folks who love to share because there’s usually so much of interest packed inside.
My children created a gift basket for their grandfather by choosing favorite foods, – some his, some theirs. We celebrated Grandparents’ Day a week early (it’s next Sunday – September 12) because Dad must end his Labor Day holiday stay with us today.
So we snacked on our gift basket foods while we honored grandfather and labor simultaneously. Friends came over for a cookout and together we grilled CHICKEN MAN.
The recipe for chicken man is a humorous Wisconsin recipe, – calling for lots of beer. Take a whole chicken, stuff an open bottle of beer inside it, cook chicken on grill, eat. That’s the recipe’s gist, but for the nuanced instructions and pics, keep reading. See Chicken Man defy the flames!
I found this recipe for beer can chicken in the North Woods Cottage Cookbook, by Jerry Minnich. It seemed appropriate to make a recipe from this book since so many Wisconsinites throw last of the summer bashes in their northern Wisconsin camps, cottages, and homes on Labor Day weekend. Over the next few weeks, many of these camps will be closed up for winter and abandoned until spring. Labor Day is often the last day of grand parties in the Wisconsin north woods, at least until deer-hunting season begins.
Minnich’s cookbook is a fun instruction manual for what foods to eat and how to cook them while having a blast on a Wisconsin north woods vacation. Here’s how he describes the beer can chicken recipe, “I encountered Beer Can Chicken several years ago, prepared by Pat Kirsop in Stoughton, Wisconsin. It was some of the best, most tender, and most flavorful chicken I have ever had. Later, I found out that the technique goes back at least to the mid-1990s, to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, Tennessee, and maybe before that. Anyway, Beer Can Chicken is no joke. Some people call it Drunken Chicken, others, Chicken on a Throne. Whatever you call it, your guests will call it delicious.”
- 2 cups hickory or oak chips
- 2 cans of beer
- 1/2 cup barbecue rub (Pat uses Penzey’s Galena Street Chicken and Rib Rub)
- 1 6-7 pound roasting chicken (although other birds may be used)
Pat’s instructions: “On the outdoor grill, use the indirect cooking method. Soak the wood chips in beer for an hour, then drain. Distribute the chips on two sides of the grill, over the hot coals, to keep intense heat away from the bird. (If you use a gas grill, put the chips in a smoker box.)
“Rinse and dry the chicken, then rub the rub liberally over the bird, and force some more under the skin. Spread a couple of teaspoons of rub into the cavity. Open another can of beer, drink a quarter of it, punch two more holes in the lid with a church key, and mix two more teaspoons of rub into the remaining beer. You can also add a few chopped onions, brown sugar, and garlic, if you like.
“At this point, open another can of beer and this time drink the whole thing. Set the bird onto the first can of beer, lowering the main cavity of the bird over the can. Push the bird’s legs slightly forward so that they and the beer can form a tripod to hold the bird upright. Put a drip pan, with a rack between the coals. Set the chicken gently on the rack, cover the grill, and cook until done. The exact time will depend on the size of the chicken and the intensity of the heat. A temperature reading in the thickest part of the the thigh should be at least 165 degrees when the bird is done.
“The technique works because the flavored steam works upward from the beer can through the chicken keeping it moist, the excess fat drips easily down into the drip pan, the skin gets nice and crispy, and you don’t rip off the back of the chicken upon taking it off the rack. Sheer genius . Before serving, have another can of beer.” – Pat Kirsop.
Our chicken turned out moist and flavorful just like Pat wrote it would. It also gave us lots of laughs. We need to practice our technique as we put our beer can chicken on too hot a fire. Flames enveloped the chicken, blackening its skin (which tasted really good to my surprise), and deformed the chicken into the resemblance of a super-human. In our beer can chicken we saw a man – his face resolute in the flames, his chest struck outward in bold defiance of the heat, his arms ripped with muscles. We could call him nothing less than CHICKEN MAN! He withstood the fire and remained stalwartly delicious.
So keep reading, Chicken Man is sure to return. Perhaps he’ll come disguised in a gift basket.
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