Friday, August 6, 2010

Beer Can Chicken, or Lumpy Lessons Learned......

I want to start off by saying I don't want to hear any wisecracks about my corny blog title. At the request of my wife I made one of my old favorites, the classic beer can chicken on the WSM. We took a large chicken, marinated it in a mixture of cilantro, cumin, a small amount of olive oil, and garlic. It came out great but I think I learned a lesson along the way that will greatly fine-tune future endeavors.

I went with the Royal Oak lump this time which had some pieces the size of my foot. More on that later.

Here we are about halfway through, so far so good. From here on things got a little hairy.

After some time, the temperature took a nosedive in the area of 200 degrees  with the vents wide open and the bird nowhere near done. I tried throwing in some hickory chunks to spike the temperature up to no avail, though it produced plenty of smoke. At that point I started up another chimney and added it lump by lump with tongs through the door 15 minutes later, only to have it dive down again after another hour! By then I was glad I had a few spare PBRs around. I eventually had an epiphany and added some straight from the bag to the fire chamber, in a crude but effective version of the Minion method (for information on that click here). The short explanation is I used a mixture of lit and unlit charcoal to extend the life of the fire and provide even heat than one lit batch would alone. I can only recommend this with lump or other charcoal advertised as 'natural' like Stubb's and Kingsford Competition, and not with traditional charcoal like Kingsford's standard variety, as it will send chemical vapors through your food.

After some time the natives were getting restless. In addition to my wife, I had her cousins over, and I found out the hard way you don't make two hungry Chinese pregnant girls wait for a meal. I caused some consternation by pulling the bird off the can at 170 in the dark meat which I saw on a recipe on, and found out that popular opinion dictates I should have waited until 180.

It may not be visible in this picture, but they also mistook the smoke ring for a bloody undercooked chicken. I could not catch a break. In any event I enjoyed a drumstick and added one more factoid to my arsenal- to always use the Minion method when cooking with lump.



Chris said...

When there is plenty of fuel and you had the heat to begin with, a temp drop would make me think there was an airflow problem. At least on the Egg it would. Are there any holes on the WSM that can get clogged with ash during a cook? Just a guess, I haven't used a WSM.

Rene said...

Hi Chris, thanks for commenting.

Is that an issue with the egg? I havnt gotten my hands on one yet. When I started I cleaned out the old ashes, and used Royal Oaks lump, which doesn't make as much ash as other things, but next time I cook I'll look out for that.