So the other day I had beer-can-chicken for the first time. And it was pretty good, but I’m not sure the beer did anything to the chicken. Certainly I couldn’t really taste it. Now I was in the company of beer geeks at the time (aren’t I always?) and we got talking about how to make the chicken taste more like the beer.
We generally agreed that a good strong-flavoured beer would be best option, but what to use? I wasn’t going to waste a good Imperial Stout or Barleywine on cooking. I toyed with the idea of using more La Trappe but then someone suggested the obvious: Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude. But of course! So simple but so genius!
Now I have an interesting relationship with Rex. I both love and hate it, sometimes within the space of the same glass and sometimes simultaneously. Overall though, I’m fond of Rex. Not because I like drinking it, but because it’s utterly-nutterly-butterly bonkers. It’s unique and it’s insane and for that I’m glad it exists.1
So I resolved to making rex-beer-can-chicken. Now there’s an obvious problem with this plan, which is that Rex doesn’t come in cans. I got around this simply by purchasing another canned drink, emptying it and filling it with Rex. For aesthetic reasons, I wanted to use a can of something really shitty, like Lion Red, but I was at the supermarket, and I could only really get cans of fizzies, so I went with lemonade.
- Drain the can of lemonade/other beer/whatever. Drink this with ice, Gin and a squeeze of lemon (optional).
- Season your chicken with a little oil, salt and fresh-ground pepper.
- Fill the empty can halfway with Rex Attitude.
- And er, well… Shove it up the chicken’s bum. Yup.
- Stand the chicken on the end of the can. Now I had trouble keeping the chicken upright, so I used a couple of bamboo skewers to keep it standing:
- Now roast it in the oven/bbq for however long (according to weight) at whatever temperature (according to oven/bbq or whatever).
I was going to drink the rest of the Rex, only needing half the bottle to fill the can. But then a thought occurred to me: gravy. I got busy preparing some spuds. Very quickly, I knew something was different from a normal roast chicken. A smoky, slightly burning smell started permeating the kitchen. I think it was just some spilled Rex on the roasting pan boiling away, because it disappeared fairly quickly (or I got used to it). It was sort of pleasant, but also vaguely reminded me of stale second-hand smoke.
Anywho, an hour and a bit later and after putting on the vegetables, the chicken was ready. I pulled it out and set it aside to rest. Frankly, it looked a little scary.
I then got busy with the gravy. Now I’ve heard it said by Christians that if God gives you a gift, it’s your duty to use it in the service of the Lord. If this is true, I should probably give up beer-tending and become an Evangelical Gravy-Preacher, because my gravy is god-damn magical. I’m known amongst my friends as the Gravy Wizard and I’m frequently contracted to make gravy at parties.
Now lets get one thing straight. Repeat after me: “Gravy does NOT come from a packet”. Got that? Cool. Here’s how I made gravy:
- Take your pan with all the lovely drippings from the roast. Pour them off if there’s a lot sloshing around in the pan. Otherwise, put it on the stove top and turn it to low.
- Sprinkle flour into the pan a little at a time and whisk it about until you’ve soaked up all the liquid. It should make a thick paste when all the oil has been soaked up.
- Once the flower is looking all nice and browned, add more liquid a little at a time, while whisking to thin it out. I used Rex. It turned out I didn’t need to save the rest of the bottle because there was still some left in the bottom of the can from the chicken’s bum.
- After a lot of whisking, the gravy should look nice and glossy. If you’ve whisked it enough, there shouldn’t be any lumps. I seasoned it with a little soy sauce, lemon juice and fresh-ground pepper.
So how did the Chickenosaurus taste? Well, only the meat nearest the can had picked up the Rex flavour. That was probably a good thing though, because it wasn’t particularly a good combination. It wasn’t bad per-se, but it did kind of taste a little like I’d used cigarette ash as a spice rub. Oh well. It was a neat experiment and we lives and learns, doesn’t we? On the other hand…
The Rex gravy was delicious: rich, subtly peaty and a little tart from the lemon juice. It was great on the chicken but I suspect it would be even better on beef. So the experiment was worth it in the end. Rex gravy: I’m going to remember that one!
I’m not entirely sold on the whole beer-can-chicken idea. The meat was very moist, but I suspect a broth or even a brine would work just as well. Next time I might just baste the chicken frequently in beer. Maybe a Rauchbier like Smok’in Bish or Smoko. Then again, they do have guinea fowl at More Wilson’s. And quails. And I was looking at those extra small energy-drink cans at the supermarket…
- I’m also very fond of Rex Attitude for another reason. If you give it to someone who’s never had it before, they’ll pull a funny face. But also, be they beer geek or complete novice, there’s roughly a 50-50 chance they’ll love it/hate it, which is pretty remarkable. Although I have seen more than one beer geek type pretend to love it so as not to lose face in geek circles, then abandon or dump it when no one is looking…