This post might also be called 'how to make your neighbors hungry.' This beer can chicken uses a hard cider instead of beer for a smoky apple flavor.
Before you even put your chicken on the grill, you are going to have to prepare it. This was the first time I cleaned a chicken and I must admit, a tear may have rolled down my cheek. It will be gross; its cold, wet, squishy, something that looks like a spleen, maybe a heart?! Remove all that stuff, wipe your tears and get ready to season.
Set your chicken upright on a flat surface. Drizzle the chicken all over with olive oil. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and dry rub. After sprinkling the surface, massage the chicken to coat evenly and generously. Make sure to wash your hands before touching something else if you have touched the chicken.
Once that is done, get your choice of beer/cider/soda. We used Smith&Forge Hard Cider but you can also use your favorite soda or beer. Open and drink 1/3 to 1/2 of the can and poke holes in the top. Place the can in front of the chicken and carefully lift and place the chicken's butt over the can. Be careful not to knock over the can and make sure the chicken is stable.
There are some fancy beer can chicken devices but don't waste your money on them. The chicken wont fall over as long as you are careful.
*MAKE SURE TO WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY AFTER TOUCHING THE CHICKEN AND CLEAN ALL SURFACES*
Prepare your grill by heating the charcoal and soaking your wood chips. This chicken is cooked using indirect heat from the charcoal. Place the charcoal to the sides of your grill, with the wood chips in a smoke box. Add a few unheated charcoals on top of the heated ones to get even more flavor. When the grill is ready, place your chicken carefully and cover. The temperature should be around 250-300 degrees. You won't be seeing it for an hour. DO NOT OPEN! I know its very tempting to look at it but don't do it. Keep it covered for 1 hour. While the chicken is cooking, get another batch of wood chips soaking.
After an hour, it is time to check your chicken. It should be a light golden color at this point. You should also add in more wood chips and a few unheated bricks on top of the charcoal. From this point you can check as often as 15 minutes, if you want. Although 30 minutes is probably more than enough. Keep the temperature around 250-300 degrees. You don't have to do anything to the chicken. Normally another hour and 15 to 30 minutes is enough time to cook the chicken. Because Erwin Lake is at almost 7,000 feet, it took close to 3 hours for the chicken to get to a nice, rich golden color.
When it's ready, carefully remove the chicken. We used two forks to lift it while sliding a dish underneath. The can should not fall out either. Let it rest and cool down for about 15 minutes. Watch out for the can because it will be extremely hot!
This chicken will come out with a crispy, flavorful skin and juicy, tender meat. It is very easy to make and will definitely impress. The key to this recipe is patience. It was also really satisfying to make something together and enjoy each other while ooh-ing and aah-ing everytime the grill was opened. I couldn't have made this delicious chicken without Dany's expert grilling and I did the dirty work of cleaning and seasoning. It was really the best smoked chicken I've had!
We used a 4-pound chicken, Lambert's Sweet Rub O' Mine, Kingsford Mesquite Charcoals, and Weber Wood Chips.
Also, your neighbors will probably hate you and be starving.