My guests usually expect, given my roots, a Middle Eastern table. Therefore, I like to surprise them with a completely different set of flavors.
A couple of weeks ago, gathered in my house for dinner and ideas exchange were ten exceptional and well-traveled ladies. My powerful female guests are human activists who are devoting their lives and careers to develop their community and support underprivileged women overcome their plight.
In my bid to spend less time in the kitchen, I opted for a simple yet exotic and spicy Southern American fare, one matching the impassioned conversation. The main dish was beer can chicken served along with three sides : spelt-peas pilaf, cannellini beans salad, and spicy roasted potatoes.
As for the dessert, one of my guests was in charge of it. Aline happens to be a social entrepreneur, who runs a bakery and a chain of grocery stores that employ Syrian refugees. She treated us to a mouth-watering Syrian dessert “Sha’abiyat”. It is a flaky and crispy Philo pastry encasing a silky smooth ashta (cream). It was the perfect, delicate grand finale after a spicy meal with heady flavors.
I truly enjoyed listening to my guests’ invaluable experiences on how to unleash women potentials, given the magnitude social and economic challenges. Each one of my guests had an emotional and inspiring story to share about an iron-willed women, who overcame either domestic violence, displacement, poverty or illiteracy to reach their maximum potential and soar above all hurdles.
I started my guests off with some chilled rosé, stuffed green olives, and pickles while we were chatting and watching the chicken getting tanned on the grill.
Beer can chicken is becoming one of my favorite bbq chicken recipe. The beer steam moistens the chicken’s flesh with no splattering nor splashing, while the brown sugar in the rub caramelises the skin and offsets the heat of chilly and cayenne pepper. It is a fairly practical alternative to roasting on summer time. It keeps both the kitchen and the host cool:). Additionally, the science of vertically grilling the chicken ensures, hands down, that your bird cooks evenly. No flipping, nor grilling experience are necessary. The only human intervention required is to sip another cold bear while waiting for the chicken to be ready.
Only few months ago, I became familiar with this chicken recipe through Jamie Deen cookshow. I was nervous to give it a shot. The idea of a simmering beer over hot grill was daunting, to say the least. After reading few reviews, I went ahead and tried it. No bad surprises, yet only good things to say about this juicy, flavors-packed wonder chicken.
As I fancy to mention in all my chicken recipes, brining the chicken is optional, but it makes a whole lot of difference in the taste and texture.
Beer Can BBQ Chicken Recipe
1 whole chicken
2 tablespoon olive oil
For the chicken brine:
4 to 5 cups water
One head garlic, halved
One onion, halved
1 teaspoon whole peppercorn
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
For the rub (This is enough for 3 to 4 chickens):
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Brine the chicken. Add all ingredients to a big pot and bring to a simmer on a medium heat for 20-25 min until the garlic and the onions wilt. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely (you can add some ice cubes to speed this step up). Add the chicken to the brine and keep it in fridge overnight.
- Pat the chicken dry. Massage the chicken with olive oil first and then with the bbq rub.
- Plunk the bird cavity over half full beer can. Place it on a roasting pan (to catch drippings) on the grill.
- Let it on the grill until it is golden brown, and juices run clear when it is poked with a knife.
- Remove from the grill, cover it with a tented foil to rest for 15-20 min.
- Carve and serve it hot along with bbq sauce and lemon/lime wedges.
- Grilling the chicken vertically ensures even grilling and bronzing of the whole chicken.