6 servings (serving size: 3 ounces chicken and about 2 tablespoons sauce)
Photography: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
1 (12-ounce) can beer
1 cup hickory wood chips
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
1/2 cup cola
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon instant onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons steak sauce (such as A-1)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
How to Make It
Open beer can; drink half. Carefully pierce top of beer can with "church-key" can opener several times; set aside. To prepare chicken, soak wood chips in water 1 hour. Combine salt, sugar, paprika, and pepper; set aside.
To prepare grill for indirect grilling, place a disposable aluminum foil pan in center of grill. Arrange charcoal around foil pan; heat to medium heat.
Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.
Rub 2 teaspoons spice mixture under loosened skin. Rub 2 teaspoons spice mixture in body cavity. Rub 2 teaspoons spice mixture over skin. Slowly add remaining spice mixture to beer can (salt will make beer foam). Holding chicken upright with the body cavity facing down, insert beer can into cavity.
Drain wood chips. Place half of wood chips on hot coals. Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Place chicken on grill rack over drip pan. Spread legs out to form a tripod to support the chicken. Cover and grill 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into meaty portion of thigh registers 180°. Add remaining wood chips after 1 hour and charcoal as needed.
Lift chicken slightly using tongs; place spatula under can. Carefully lift chicken and can; place on a cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes. Gently lift chicken using tongs or insulated rubber gloves; carefully twist can and remove from cavity. Discard skin and can.
To prepare sauce, combine cola and remaining ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes. Cool. Serve with chicken.
Recipes adapted from Steven Raichlen's books How to Grill (Workman, 2001) and BBQ USA (Workman, 2003)
Chicken turned out great. Moist and flavorful. I did this on a gas grill with mesquite wood in the smoker. I had some trouble keeping the temperature right, I was shooting for 325, and probably came up a little shy 'cause after 2 hours the meat was only at 165. I pulled it off anyway and the breast were perfect, while their was some red in the middle. Also, not much of my beer was gone, so I didn't get a lot of steam going. I copped out on the sauce and used bottled BBQ. Next time I will go for 325 and err on the high side.
I've made this (chicken only) a few times over the past few years and I have to say this a a fail proof barbecue chicken recipe; moist and flavorful every time. The chicken is so good on it's own, I've never felt inclined to try the sauce...maybe one day;)
My husband and I both loved this chicken. He felt the flavor was so good that the sauce was unnecessary. I liked the extra flavor in the sauce and appreciated that it wasn't overpowering. We used a charcoal grill and found the 4-lb chicken to be done after about 1 1/2 hours. The skin was fairly blackened, but the meat underneath was absolutely succulent! I served it with orzo and roasted corn salad (also from CL) and old-fashoined cole-salw.