Cook With Confidence: Ginger "Beer Can" Chicken
My husband and I love to cook on the Big Green Egg at home so when I see a brand new recipe that will work well for our smoker, I get pretty excited. This recipe, featured in Southern Living's June issue, is a fun twist on the old "beer can" chicken recipe that we've all seen before. It reminds me of the college days when everyone would drag out their charcoal grills to tailgate before football games. I used to call it "drunk chicken" back then but because we used ginger ale this time, I'll go with "sober chicken." The beer can usually works great when grilling or smoking a chicken but the genius of using flavorful and zesty ginger ale in it's place really bowled me over. Why didn't I think of that?
What's fun about making this dish is you can prepare most of it outside while you soak in some sun. We chose a late Sunday afternoon to get started and while the smoker warmed up, I prepared the spice rub. Paprika, black pepper, red pepper, ground ginger, sugar and salt are all hanging out on my spice rack so it's always great to be able to use what you already have in your kitchen. A few stirs to combine the spices and the chickens were ready for a massage!
I decided to grate some fresh ginger and insert it inside the cavities of the chickens as an aromatic punch. I loved combining the fresh ginger inside, the ground ginger in the rub and the ginger ale from the can to really inject bold flavor. Once the chickens were rubbed down and the the smoker was ready, we popped the top of the cans and perched the birds upright on the grill rack. The soda can itself acts as a pretty great "stand" for the chicken so no need to have any extra equipment on-hand.
This recipe was written for a charcoal or gas grill. Smoking is usually a pretty long process especially for cuts like pork butt or beef brisket (we're talking 12 hours+) but chicken cooks relatively quick and after 90 minutes we were ready to eat - almost! The chicken came out super juicy, flavorful and tender right from the smoker but to take this recipe over the top, you've got to make the ginger ale glaze!
As I brought the four glaze ingredients to a boil, I was surprised by how spicy it was. I could tell just by breathing it in that it wasn't for wimps. Luckily, we like a little heat on our plates so it was a welcomed addition to the dish. If spice isn't your thing, leave out the red pepper and only use half the grated ginger. The glaze had to cook for 15-20 minutes and properly reduce to about a 1/4 cup. That was plenty to drizzle over the chicken.
We made quick sandwiches with the chicken on jalapeño cheddar buns and they were incredible!!! If you are questioning if it's worth the time and effort to make this chicken, please give it a try and see for yourself. Our 13-month-old daughter (who will hardly eat meat at all) happily ate up her fair share of chicken, minus the spicy glaze. This recipe makes plenty so invite company over, freeze leftovers or enjoy a few more sandwiches throughout the work week. Whether you smoke it or grill it, this dish is kid-friendly, affordable, succulent and absolutely perfect for summer. Grilling season is in full swing and we want you to join in on the fun! Snap a photo of your mouthwatering meal and use the hashtag #CookWithConfidence. You may see your post featured on our Instagram or Twitter pages. Happy smoking!