Beer Can Chicken

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THIS BEER IS FOR THE BIRDS. A whole chicken roosts atop a half-full tallboy to absorb extra moisture and flavor. Perched above a hot bed of coals, it also take on a golden, smoke-tinged hue. There’s not much to do except stand back and turn the bird a few times while sipping on the extra beers. In fact, the method is so easy that I tend to cook tow at a time, enuring leftovers for chicken salad and tacos.

1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) chicken

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 (16 ounce) can dark beer

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges

1. About 30 minuets before ready to grill, build a fire in a gas or charcoal grill. If using a charcoal grill, let the coals burn to a grey ash with a slight red glow. Bank the coals on one side of the grill for direct and indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat one side only to medium.

2. Rinse the chicken, pat dry, and remove any excess skin or fat. Season inside and out with half of the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Open the can of beer, drain half and place in the cavity of the chicken, legs down over the can so that the chicken sits upright. Place the chicken on the side of the grill without the coals or heat with the back facing the heat, making sure it is secure enough on the grate not to tip over.

3. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and remaining salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and stir to combine. Brush the outside of the chicken all over with about one-third of this mixture.

4. Place the cover on the grill and cook, about 20 min. Uncover, carefully rotate the chicken a quarter turn, keeping the breast side away from the direct heat, and baste again with the olive oil mixture. Cover and cook the chicken about 20 minuets more. Repeat the process two more times until the chicken is cooked through and an instant thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, a total of 1 hour and 15 to 20 minuets. If using a charcoal grill, you may need to add more coals while cooking. If using a gas grill, the chicken may cook faster because the heat is more even.

5. Carefully remove the chicken from the grill (the liquid in the can will be extremely hot) and lace on a rimmed baking sheet to rest, about 15 min. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the beer can from the cavity and discard. Chop the chicken into pieces and serve warm with ice-cold beer and wedges of lemon or lime.