I know what you're thinking, and forget about it, cause we're not going there. I thought the title of this post might catch your eye, and peak your curiosity. For those of you who have NO CLUE of what I'm talking about, consider yourself lucky.
Ladies and Gentlepeople -- I dearly hope that you're 4th of July was as fun and as successful as ours. We are very fortunate to live at the end of a cul-de-sac in North Natomas, and equally blessed to have the greatest neighbors anyone could ever ask for.
I belive that Rodney King would dearly love this neighborhood, because we all really do "just get along."
That photo to your immediate left? It represents part of the main course that we served to about 20 friends and neighbors last night. It is commonly referred to as "beer can chicken" and is also known as "beer butt chicken." I prefer "beer can chicken" myself. It's just a tad more classy in my opinion.
These chickens have been lovingly coated with a mixture of spices and herbs, some of which came directly from the backyard. The empty beer cans are filled with a mixture of red and white wines (whatever you have is good) and the cans also contain fresh herbs harvest from the backyard, including lemon thyme, parsley, basil and dill weed just to name a few. We stuff both cans with as many fresh herbs that will fit.
The cans are then inserted into the cavity of both whole chickens, which had been marinating in this special spice mixture for 24 hours. I've put both recipes below for your convenience. Feel free to experiment, because this is one delicious recipe.
Both chickens only took about 70-80 minutes to thoroughly cook -- and they come out as tender as a rotissiere chicken from any supermarket (only it's that much better). The cook (me in this case) has to monitor the cooking process very carefully, however. Although the grill is set on low, the drippings from both birds cause quite the flame-up. So, if you're going to try this at home kids, please have a handy-dandy water bottle nearby.
Otherwise, beer can chicken will come out looking a lot like beer burnt chicken.
The wine and herbs play a huge role in the cooking process. The wine eventually will start to boil, and the steam rising from the can of wine and fresh herbs will help cook the chicken from the inside out, aided by the flame from the grill.
Our 4th of July feast also featured other "goodies from the garden," such as these "All Blue" and "Cranberry Red" potatoes that Venus and I harvested just a few days earlier from one of the raised beds. Venus planted exactly one pound of potatoes last March in one of the raised beds. That one pound investment netted about 75 lbs. of potatoes.
Although I thought the wife was making far too much potato salad for the 4th, my fears were for naught. Venus made two types of potato salad with the freshly harvest potatoes: spicy and volcanic spicy. Both were a huge hit. There are some leftovers on the day after the 4th of July, but not nearly as much as I imagined. The wife's "Red, White & Blue" potato salad was clearly a hit.
We're both very fortunate, Venus and I, that the garden is now beginning to produce in large numbers. These heirloom tomatoes represent about one-quarter of what is now ripe and ready to harvest on the vine. What you're looking at is a mixture of Lemon Boy (yellow), Azoychka (yellow), Druzba (Red), Campbell's 1327 (red) and Bloody Butcher (red) tomatoes. The cucumber garden, meanwhile, provided four ready-to-harvest, Diva and Marketmore cucumbers.
The resulting salad is one of my favorites. I proceeded to chop and mix everything together, drown it in red wine vinegar, coat it with salt and pepper and then add a dusting of dried oregano flakes. After tossing everything together to mix all spices and vinegar together, I added a second dusting on the top for good measure.
I found out that many of our guests last night are big fans of yellow tomatoes. And there's no denying the taste of an Azoychka or Lemon Boy tomato. I personally believe the orange colored Kelloggs Breakfast tomatoes are some of the best and zestiest I've ever tasted, but the fans of Brandywine will challenge me on that.
But the best part of 4th of July isn't the food. It's a great meal, yes, but the real show comes later. 4th of July, like many holidays, are for children. Although Venus and I are not fortunate enough to have our own yet, we do have a niece and nephew who we host anytime we can get them. Add those kids to a neighborhood full of children, and you have an outdoor holiday filled with shrieks and excitement.
This is when memories are made. And as I watched our niece and nephew run in circles last night, multiple sparklers in hand, I knew that Venus and I had both created a memory that the kids will remember for a lifetime. In time, they will be fortunate enough to create memories for other children.
But let's not rush things. 4th of July is for children. Spice rub recipes and directions are below. Feel free to change or add spices. Any mixture comes out great!
BEER CAN CHICKEN SPICE RUB #1
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Place all spices in a small bowl and mix together
BEER CAN CHICKEN SPICE RUB #2
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic salt
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme (lemon thyme works just as well)
Place all spices in a bowl and mix well
Remove giblets from the cavity of a whole chicken, rinse well, inside and out, and dry with a paper towel (or two).
Place chicken on a large cutting board (this gets kinda messy) and use a basting brush to coat entire chicken with a standard cooking oil. Press spice rub on the top and sides and bottom of chicken. You should have just enough, and I can't emphasis the word "press" enough. Coating the oiled chicken isn't good enough. You need to press that spice rub on, and yes, this will result in hands covered with oil and spices. I told you it was messy.
You can allow chickens to sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or cook immediately. Fill a standard beer can (note: drink beer first), about half to three-quarters full with any red or white wine you have handy. If you want to put fresh herbs in the wine-filled beer cans, whatever you have available will work just fine. But it's not required.
Hold the back of the chicken in the palm of one hand. Turn upright (like the chicken is standing on two legs), and insert beer can into the cavity of the chicken. Place can and chicken on pre-heated grill carefully. The can and chicken legs will help the chicken stay upright. Adjust if necessary.
Cook on low to semi-low heat for 70-80 minutes and keep a water bottle handy for barbeque flareups, because it WILL flare.
Use tongs to remove chicken from can after cooking. Let sit for 5 minutes before carving.