Tuscan Beer Can Chicken

FamilyStyle Food

It doesn’t need to be summer to roast a chicken on an outdoor grill – we’ve been known to get a fire started during all kinds of weather in my backyard.

I’ve posted a simple recipe for perfect roast chicken here a while ago, and it’s still the method I use when cooking a whole bird, whether inside in the oven or outdoors on the grill.

But there is no doubt that a chicken roasted on a charcoal or wood fire is like chicken nirvana – the crackly, smoke-infused skin and tender, juicy meat that comes from roasting the bird slowly over indirect heat on a grill simply makes my mouth water.

Last weekend I switched up my usual modus operandi with a variation on a classic beer can chicken recipe, inspired by grilling master Steven Raichlen.

Instead of the usual rub and beer combo, I thought it might be fun to season my chicken with Tuscan flavors like fennel, garlic and rosemary, and to use the Italian bubbly Prosecco in place of beer.

I loved it. Impaling the chicken on a can and roasting it vertically means more even cooking and there’s no need to flip the chicken over and risk tearing the precious skin.

This might become my new go-to recipe for roasting a chicken. It’s a good thing I keep plenty of the bubbly around! And plenty of rosemary, of course.

FamilyStyle Food

Tuscan Beer Can Chicken

Serving Size: Serves 4

Ingredients

1 whole roasting chicken (3 or 4 lbs)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt

1 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel seeds

1 teaspoon onion powder and garlic powder

Prosecco or other sparkling wine

Instructions

  1. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect grilling by piling the hot coals on opposite sides of the grill with a drip pan or large piece of foil in between, or preheat a gas grill to medium.
  2. Put the chicken on a small sheet pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and rub about 3 tablespoons all over the chicken to coat it thoroughly, and put 1 tablespoon into the cavity.
  3. Poke a few holes in the top of an empty 12-ounce beer or beverage can and fill halfway with Prosecco or other sparkling wine; then carefully spoon the remaining rub into the can. (You don't need to use expensive bubbly here, unless of course you happen to be drinking from an open bottle as you start to cook, my personal preference).
  4. Center the cavity end of chicken over the can and slide it in as far as will go before carefully arranging in the middle of the grill rack.
  5. Cover the grill and cook undisturbed for an hour, checking halfway through to be sure your grill temperature remains at a constant temperature between 325 and 350 degrees, adding more coals if needed.
  6. Take the chicken off the grill when the skin is nicely crisp and brown and juices that spew out of the chicken run clear. If you want to be precise, gently insert an instant read thermometer in the thick end of the thigh, without touching bone, to get a reading of 165 to 170 degrees.
  7. Let the chicken rest for at least 10 t o 15 minutes before removing the can, carving and serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/05/tuscan-beer-can-chicken/

BLTs with Basil Aioli and Five-Minute Grilled Flatbread

BLT sandwich on quick grilled flatbread
I love the Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, and one of my all-time favorite pieces from his book “It Must Have Been Something I Ate” is the one about his search for perfect pizza, which, in true Steingartian fashion sends him on a mission to reproduce the flavor and taste of a true Neapolitan-style pizza crust at home.

Steingarten estimates that in order to achieve blistered, dense and delicious crusts a person needs to simulate the heat of a true wood-fired oven that can achieve extremely hot temperatures, somewhere in the range between 650 and 950 degrees, which proves to be just about impossible to accomplish unless you happen to have a heavy-duty commercial oven. His most successful attempt turns out to be firing up a Weber charcoal grill and placing a pizza stone directly on the rack; when the charcoal is arranged properly (more toward the sides of the stone than piled right under it) your everyday barbecue grill is transformed into a little pizza oven. I tried this method and it seems to work pretty well.

After browsing through a new cookbook called Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas yesterday and getting hungry, I made a simple unleavened dough and lit the grill. I actually wanted to make hot BLT sandwiches for dinner, and thought the bread would be an interesting twist. And since it was so spur of the moment, the dough recipe was a good choice since it doesn’t require yeast or rising time. It doesn’t have the fermented flavor that a good yeasted pizza or flatbread has, but for a quick, interesting meal it was satisfying and fun to make.

This method of cooking on the grill would work with any dough you have, even prepared pizza dough from the bakery or grocery store. I’ve also used this very easy recipe for 5-minute pizza dough from Sara Moulton with excellent results.

BLT’s with Basil Aioli on Grilled Flatbread

Prepared pizza dough or Piadina dough (recipe follows)
Basil Aioli (recipe follows)
Fresh arugula or other greens
Cooked bacon
Sliced ripe tomatoes

Light your charcoal or gas grill to medium-high, arranging coals around edges of the grill once they are hot and glowing. (use long tongs and a heavy-duty oven mitts for this). Place a pizza stone on the rack and heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on contact.

Cut the dough into 3-inch pieces and roll them out on a floured surface into roughly 6-inch diameter rounds.

Place the dough on the stone and cook until both sides are browned and blistered, about 2 minutes per side.

Remove from the stone and spread each with some Basil Aioli. Top with greens, bacon and tomatoes. Fold over loosely and eat like a sandwich.

Basil Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise, regular or reduced fat ( I prefer Hellmann’s)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to one day.

Piadina Dough (Instant Unleavened Pizza Dough)
Adapted from Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas by Craig W. Priebe

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Process just until the dough comes together, about 15 pulses. Dump the dough on to a floured surface and knead until soft and springy. Cover with plastic wrap to rest for about 15 minutes.

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Copyright (c) 2008 FamilyStyle Food

Grilled Lemon Cumin Chicken with Favas and Feta

The weather pattern this week almost has me believing we’re living in California wine country or something. Here we are moving straight on to summer, and yet we’ve had a series of clear, warm, dry days followed by cool, breezy evenings that make me just want to live outside. I’m savoring it, because I’m counting on the return of our normal St. Louis days of heat and booty-spanking humidity. Well, dreading them, really. 

I’d love to live outside. I’ve been sitting out in the backyard, watching the grass grow (for real) and browsing through the pages of the various catalogs that pile up around here – Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Smith and Hawken – that now have whole publications devoted to decorating the yard. I find the stylish photos very inviting, in a movie-set kind of way. And while I can easily imagine lounging on an oversized espresso-colored cushion and serving dinner on a 7-foot long dining table nestled under a big old olive tree with a chandelier hanging from it, I have to laugh.

When I insist on eating dinner in the backyard, we line up for a few thick coats of Deep Woods repellent and shovel dinner in real fast before hightailing it back inside.

In the spirit of the season, however, I made this Mediterranean-inspired chicken the other night. We ate it outside, pretty much unscathed.

I always buy fresh fava beans in the spring, because I love them. Although they require a tiny bit of extra work (double-peeling), they’re nothing like dried ones, which tend to need a lifetime of soaking and have a dry, starchy texture when cooked. Fresh favas are tender, sweet and greener than Kentucky Bluegrass. They’re also fun for kids to peel – the pods are thick and fleshy, and the beans inside rest on a fuzzy white lining like flannel pillowcases.


Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food