Beer-Can Chicken

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So I think I’ve mentioned that the July “Grilling” issue of Bon Appétit is my favorite issue of the year (followed by a close second is the Thanksgiving issue).  This July’s has already produced infamous Sriracha-Glazed Chicken Skewers and the Beer-Can Chicken recipe had been taunting me for too long.  So I decided to make it one Saturday a couple weeks ago.  

Tony and I had been running around doing errands and stopped in at our local Sprouts Farmer’s Market to pick up the ingredients for dinner (the chicken and our fave Broccoli Slaw).  Sprouts is a chain of smallish grocery stores that specialize in organic, natural and healthy products.  Which is great – we bought a Rosie Brand “sustainably farmed, free range, organic, hormone and antibiotic-free” chicken, but the recipe calls for a can of light lager beer and Sprouts had a great selection of expensive bottled craft beers, but the only beer in cans they had was 12-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Seriously?  PBR?  I know PBR has become quite the hipster beer lately with most trendy, cool bars serving it, but really? A 12-pack?  All I needed was one can!)

1/2 can PBR + 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub = 1 delicious chicken

1/2 can PBR + 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub = 1 delicious chicken

Okay, fine.  So we took our expensive sustainably farmed, organic, free range chicken and our 12-pack of PBR home.  And you know what?  This chicken is DE-licious.  Incredibly delicious. And so easy and simple.  It’s moist and tender.  The steam from the beer and the salt in the rub just lock in all the juices.  And the skin gets all browned and crisp.  In the famous words of Colonel Sanders, “it’s finger licking good”.  Literally.  We were pulling meat off the bones and licking our fingers.  Tony claimed it was the best chicken he had ever had anywhere.  I’m still torn between this and the Sriracha skewers, but we’ll definitely be making this again.  And again.

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Well, what can I say? It IS called Beer-Can Chicken!

And the PBR wasn’t so bad either.

Beer-Can Chicken

(Bon Appétit, July 2013)


1 can light lager beer

1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken (buy the best quality chicken you can find)

2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub (recipe follows)

 Special equipment: A foil baking pan (for drip pan)


Pour out (or drink) half of beer (guess which I opted for?  Lol.)  Tip:  if you use a can opener to remove the whole top of the beer can, it’ll maximize the boozy vapors that make it to the chicken

Prepare grill for high, indirect heat and fit with grill pan (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side of grill and put drip pan on empty side; for a gas grill, leave 1 burner turned off and place drip pan over unlit burner). Add water to pan to a depth of 1/2″.

Season chicken with 2 tablespoons 4-3-2-1 Spice Rub. Place cavity of chicken, legs pointing down, onto open can so that it supports chicken upright. Place can, with chicken, on grill over indirect heat (and above drip pan). Grill chicken, covered, until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 45-60 minutes. (If using charcoal, you may need to add more to maintain heat.) Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with pan drippings.

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub

You can use this simple formula to sass up plenty of things that aren’t poultry, like pork, steak, or vegetables.


4 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Makes enough spice rub for two whole chickens. Double or triple the recipe and use it all summer.  Keep the leftover in a tightly covered jar or container.


Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards


Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards.  “Qu’est-ce que c’est un paillard?” you ask.  Paillard (pronounced pie-yard) is the French term for a boneless chicken breast or other cut of meat that’s been pounded into broad, thin sheets about 1/4″ thick.

In my post about Tuscan Grilled Chicken, Sausage & Sage Skewers,  I refer to the now coverless Grilling issue of Fine Cooking and say that, in addition to the skewers, we like to make these paillards.  They are delicious, quick and easy and one of our all-time “go-to” recipes.  But one of the things we really like about making paillards is just saying, “paillard”.  And saying it in a very overly exaggerated French accent, with a very heavy emphasis on the “d”.  As in “pie-yar-D(uh).”

I think we’ve had these with just about every salad on the blog.  Just the other night it was the Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad.  Grill a few extra paillards and you’ll have chicken for Fiesta Chicken Salad.

And let me know  if you become compelled to say “pie-yar-D(uh).”

Herbed Grilled Chicken Paillards


4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed and rinsed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
crushed red chile flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, flat-leaf parsley, or other fresh herb
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling


Lightly wet a chicken breast with cold water and set it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound it into a broad, flat sheet about 1/4-inch thick (called a paillard), using a meat pounder, the side of a heavy cleaver, a rolling pin, or a skillet. Pound the other breasts into paillards the same way and arrange them on a baking sheet.

Generously season each paillard on both sides with salt and pepper and a pinch or two of chile flakes. Sprinkle both sides with the garlic and rosemary. Drizzle both sides with the lemon juice and olive oil and pat into the meat with your fingertips.

Refrigerate the paillards for 20 minutes while you prepare the grill.

Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Arrange the paillards on the grill grate and grill until cooked and firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes per side. (use a long, wide spatula to move and turn the paillards.) Transfer the paillards to a platter or plates. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately with lemon wedges for squeezing.