June 14, 2009

BBQ Night!

Thought for the day:
"Chicken? What's all this talk about chicken? Why, I had an uncle who thought he was a chicken....my aunt almost divorced him, but we needed the eggs."
- Groucho Marx

Let me just say what this little chicken dish has been called..."Beer in the Rear Chicken, Drunken Chicken with Dirty Bird Rub, and Beer Butt Chicken"...I like to refer to it as "Beer Can Chicken." Plain and simple. It's a fun recipe with outstanding results.
If you didn't read my previous post after visiting Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, I'm attempting to recreate some summer dishes from my little kitchen that would possibly rival Dinosaur's. Our meal there included chicken, macaroni salad and fries. Although delicious, I'm looking for more calorie conscious, healthy combos that still taste a bit rebellious.

So, here goes. Today is sunny, warm and clear, so I'm motivated to whip up my own barbeque of Beer Can Chicken, Pasta Salad, and Garlic Smashed Red Potatoes.

The chicken is easy and silly. I used a seven pound chicken because I wanted leftovers for weekday lunches, but it's faster to grill using 3-4 pounders.

You'll need a disposable aluminum pan, a can of your favorite beer, 3 sprigs of rosemary (it looks like pine needles), seasonings, and of course, a chicken!

Beer Can Chicken

1 whole chicken (3 lbs. or larger, giblets removed)
1 can of beer
fresh rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup Italian dressing
Cajun seasoning (or your favorite dry rub)

First, wash your chicken inside and out; pat dry. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper. Set aside in the aluminum pan.

Open the beer can, remove the tab, and pour 1/2 of the beer into a cup. Using an opener, punch two additional holes in the top. Place one sprig of rosemary right into the can. Place the two extra sprigs inside the chicken cavity.

Using your hands, rub the entire chicken with the Italian dressing. Place the can upright in the pan. Gently push the open cavity of the chicken down onto the can as far as it will go. You want the chicken to be able to sit upright, using the drumsticks as a tripod to keep from tipping over. Once assembled, sprinkle the chicken with the Cajun spice or dry rub.

Place the pan on a preheated grill. Turn off one side of the grill; position the pan on this side. You do not want the pan to be on the direct flame. Pour the remaining cup of beer into the pan. Close the grill, and cook at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Try not to peek, it's important to leave the lid closed. After this time, check to see if there is still liquid in the bottom of the pan. If not, crack open another beer, pour a bit over the chicken and let it run down into the pan. (Enjoy the rest of the beer while you wait!)

If you have small chickens, they will most likely be done in an hour. Check with a meat thermometer. Because I'm using a larger bird, I left it going for about 2 hours. The larger birds also have a pop-out timer which is helpful.

When the bird is done, carefully remove the pan from the grill. Using two forks, gently lay the chicken flat down in the pan. Use a butter knife to gently loosen the can from the bottom of the bird. I use the two forks, or tongs, to pull it right out and set it aside. Move the chicken to a platter and cover with foil for 10 minutes.
Slice the chicken into thin slices, leaving wings and legs intact. Serve with your favorite BBQ or cooking sauce. Leftovers can be chopped, reheated in BBQ sauce and served on warm buns another night. Deeeeeeelicious!
(If you're planning on making the garlic smashed potatoes, roast your garlic right along with the chicken. Peel the papery skin from around the garlic head, cut off the tops of the cloves, drizzle with a little olive oil, and wrap it in foil. Place it on the grill and roast for about 30-40 minutes
over indirect heat. When done, the bulb should feel soft when you press it.)

For one of the sides, I'm going to prepare a pasta salad, in lieu of the typical Hellmann's macaroni version. I like this recipe better for the summer because it doesn't have eggs or mayo, and I don't panic if it sits out for a bit. It's a combination of several different types of pasta salads I've eaten and made. This seems to be the favorite at my house.

Pasta Salad
Serves 6-8

1 pound of pasta (I use Barilla brand/Campanelle)
2 cups dry tortellini (any flavor)
2 cups fresh broccoli, florets sliced
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 cup celery, sliced
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced thin
1/2 pound pepperoni, sliced in strips
3 tablespoons basil pesto
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing

Salt a large pot of boiling water; add pasta and tortellini. Cook until "al dente". It should be a little firm; not overcooked. Just before you drain the pasta, add the broccoli and zucchini to the water. Stir for about 2 minutes, then pour it all into a large colander. Rinse with cold water and allow to drain.

In a large bowl, combine the pasta mixture and the remaining uncooked veggies, basil and pepperoni. Mix in the pesto and Italian dressing; adding more of each to your taste. Be sure the pasta is evenly coated. Spoon into a glass dish, cover and chill until ready to serve.
One side dish down; now for the potatoes. You could use the recipe for the Grilled Rosemary Potatoes (link in the sidebar), but I've opted for garlic smashed.

Garlic Smashed Red Potatoes
Serves 4-6

8-10 medium sized red potatoes, washed/cubed
1 small head of garlic, roasted
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
kosher salt/cracked pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon chopped chives

Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt in the bottom of a dutch oven, or medium sized stockpot. Fill with cold water; add potatoes.
Boil until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain and place back in the pan. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the bulb (once cooled) over the potatoes. Add the sour cream, butter, milk and seasonings. Using a hand held masher, smash the potatoes, adding more milk if necessary. You want the potatoes to be on the chunky, lumpy side. Spoon into a casserole dish; sprinkle with more chives and parsley.
Even though I love eating out, it's nice to kick off the flip flops, play my favorite music and hang with Mr. Grumps, (and our girls, if they're ever around!)

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