Nigeria, August 15, 2008
An American import everyone will love me for
Over the last year, I've perfect my beer can chicken grilling technique. That would be the production of succulent, moist, and tasty whole chicken, cooked on a barbecue grill, using lemon marinade and a half-can of beer. I am now in Nigeria and on a mission to spread the word of this culinary delicacy to the land of boot-leather tough over-cooked chicken.
First off, beer can chicken is a surprisingly simple yet effective way to produce the most delicious chicken you've ever tasted. You'll need four very basic ingredients:
First, marinate the chicken about three or four hours before cooking, depending on your marinade. I always add a few hours to the suggested time, and I put the chicken in a tight, airless, plastic bag, so it is in constant contact with the marinade.
Then, once the grill is piping hot, take the chicken out of the plastic bag, as you or a trusted assistant consumes half the beer in the beer can. By the way, do use a can, not a bottle of beer. Cans don't shatter in heat like bottles can.
Next, put the can up the butt of the chicken. Just shove it right up in the chicken, with force if need be. Yes, it's mildly sexual, so it helps if you add provocative sounds effects, especially if you've consumed more than half a beer in the process.
Finally, stand the chicken on the grill and grill the chicken over medium heat until its internal temperature reaches 180F or 83C on the inside - a meat thermometer is great for this - or the juices run clear when you cut a deep part of the meat.
Now that the chicken is done, gently pull out the beer can from the chicken and discard the can and its remaining beer. Let the chicken cool, then carve and serve. I promise you it will be the most tender chicken you've ever had. Which brings me back to Nigeria.
I have never had such overcooked, dry, and tough chicken than in this country. I know its mostly wild chicken, which makes it a bit tougher, and its not injected with water after cleaning, which helps moisten the bird, but still. Not even Kenyan or scrawny-ass Chinese chicken is as rubberized as Nigerian poultry.
And its because I know how easy and yet delicious beer can chicken can be, I feel the primal desire to spread its usage across this vast and fowl-loving land. I am speaking to every restaurant owner, chief, and gourmand I can find, spreading the Gospel of hops + poultry grilled slowly over the warm glow of a grill.
For those who doubt - mark my words: Before I leave, I shall declare at least one convert to the wonders of beer can chicken!