I still clearly remember my first encounter with “beer butt chicken,” as my uncle Ted called it. My cousin and I giggled a lot over the name, but the moment I tasted it I was sold. Every bit of that chicken was moist and juicy and full of flavor!
Now, being gluten free, the beer part is not really an option (I know that GF beers are out there, but I’ve never been a beer drinker and thus have not been inclined to seek out alternatives). So now Hubs uses soda, and I can’t tell the difference to be honest. For this one we chose Fresca, although ginger ale would also be a great choice.
Carefully open the top of the can as much as possible using a knife or kitchen scissors and pour out (or drink!) a few ounces of the liquid. Add in extra flavors here if desired – herbs, garlic cloves, and peppercorns are all great choices. Prep your chicken by rubbing it with some spices (we used Grill Mates Applewood Rub), then just set the chicken cavity down over the can. I recommend using a rack like this one, it makes it easier to maneuver the bird.
Next, it’s time to smoke it! I am not as familiar with this part of the process, since outdoor cooking is generally Hubs’ domain and barbecuing is a special hobby of his. He even built this smoker himself using a big food-grade metal barrel and an old grill lid.
Hubs always impresses me with his handyman projects! But you don’t need a big setup like this to do the chicken, it can easily be done on a regular grill (even a gas one – check out this video to learn how). You can also do this in the oven (bake at 350 for about an hour), but there’s just something about the slow-cooked smoky flavor that really makes it special.
The smoker should be kept at a consistent 250 degrees, and the chicken will be ready when a thermometer probe in the thickest part of the breast reads 180 degrees (about 4 hours). Once it’s done, rest the chicken for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.
Hubs uses two remote thermometers, one to monitor the chicken and one to monitor the smoker temperature. To keep the second one accurate, he uses a small potato to suspend it above the grill grate, pictured on the left below.
Note – he put it directly on the grill grates since it’s pretty far above the coals/wood in this setup. I recommend putting the chicken above a pan, like disposable aluminum bake ware, to collect the drippings.
Be careful when taking it off the can – it gets really hot!
Mmmmmm….who’s ready for some chicken?