Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cooking with a can, a skillet, and a little Presto

When I was younger, I'm absolutely certain you could not stick an entire aluminum (or tin) can inside of a chicken. Today, beer can chick is the rage. Perhaps genetic modifications have made this possible, or cans are just...well, smaller? The physics of this dish should just be accepted as they are. 

I don't have a particularly interesting approach to this dish. Nothing novel. Just half-fill an empty Diet Coke can with Steamboat Pale Ale. Add 2 TBs of homemade rub to the can, and sprinkle the inside and outside of the chicken as well. Position the chicken over the can (located conveniently in a beer can chicken roasting "rack" you received as a stocking stuffer a couple of years back). Thrust downward on the chicken, impaling it upon the rather large diameter can. Place the entire structure in an 8x8 baking pan. Seat this in the bottom of your Weber grill, surrounded by a full load of hot, ashen charcoal spread around the perimeter. Place the lid on the grill for 1 hour. Return to check. Notice that you let the charcoal burn a little too long before starting to leave the chicken for another 45 minutes while you watch Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Return a second time to find the chicken is PERFECT.

We served this with skillet cornbread made with a twist: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Place 1 TB butter and 1 TB oil to a cast iron skillet, place in over until sizzling
  3. Mix 2 C corn meal
  4. 1 Tbs baking powder
  5. 1 TB sugar
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 2 eggs beaten
  8. 1 can green chiles, roasted, chopped
  9. 1-2 pickled (or fresh) jalapenos minced
  10. Add 1/2 C whole wheat and 1/2 C white flour
  11. Add 1-2 C milk until batter is mixed but very thick
  12. Spoon batter into hot skillet
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown

But, what did you do during the first hour of chicken roasting, you might ask? We made fried okra, of course. Not having made this before, it was time to fake it. 

The Method
  1. Bring 2 Q of oil to 350 degrees in your Presto deep fryer (yes, a wedding gift we never thought to still works despite disuse!)
  2. Have Junior Chef #1 slice the okra into 1/2" segments
  3. Combine 1 egg and a few TBs of milk
  4. In a ziploc, combine 1 C corn meal, 1 tsp paprika, garlic salt, salt, lots of black pepper
  5. Coat the okra in the egg wash
  6. Remove and drop in the breading bag - Shake...Shake...Shake
  7. Place breaded okra on a plate
  8. Fry each batch (not too many at a time) for 7 minutes, or until deep golden brown
  9. Gently drain and transfer to a wire rack (conversely, do these on the rack roughly and watch the coating shatter and fall to the counter top leaving behind naked fried okra)
  10. Serve with...ready for this...whatever possessed us? Cocktail sauce or a Mayo/Mustard/Honey dip created by Junior Chef #2
The Results

The okra were gone before the chicken had been cooking for a half hour. A few of the pieces were "woody." These would have been fine in a stewed form, but didn't soften at all during frying. The cocktail sauce was wonderful on these...strange tho' it sounds. The mystery sauce was...well, surprisingly good. Grandma Anne must have rubbed off on these kids over the summer.

The cornbread played a tasty supporting role.  The mixture of flours and chiles gave it a different texture than usual, and a deeper flavor.

The chicken was, as it always is like this, outstanding. It makes you forget the guilt of having impaled the fowl so cruely. The skin is a delicacy. 

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009