. Summer is here and it's time for grilling in the great outdoors. We finally succumbed to a gas grill, and I have to say, we have enjoyed it excessively. I haven't cooked anything indoors for weeks. (I'm only sort of kidding.) Here is one of our favorites that has become a delicious standby for just about any occasion. It looks a little funny, but hey, I'm sure we could all use a laugh. Don't be afraid to try it- it's easy and couldn't be more yummy.
1 5-6 pound chicken (It needs to be big to accomodate the jar or can)
1 can of the best beer you can find in a can (it's a little difficult to find good beer in a can - we use Guinness)
OR, use a 12-ounce jelly jar and fill it halfway with good beer (wine works too)
1 Tablespoon each:
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
The very first thing you should do after removing the innards from your chicken is to try to fit the can or jar in the cavity of the chicken to make sure it will fit. You don't want to find this out after the chicken is covered in rub. A little practice ahead eliminates a lot of problems later. Mix the dry rub ingredients together. Use about half of it on the chicken, inside and out, getting as much as you can under the skin. It helps to put the chicken on a piece of plastic wrap and use that to apply the rub to the outside, otherwise you will end up with alot of the rub caked on your hands, when you really want it on the chicken. It is a little like working with a greased pig, but you can do it.
Next, if you are using a beer can, you will want to use a can opener to carefully remove the top. This can be a little tricky, but it can be done. You can just pop the top, but there will not be as much flavor in the finished product. Don't be afraid to use a glass jelly jar, I haven't had one break. It can withstand the heat fine. Just don't drop it. Stir the remaining rub into the beer. Fit your chicken over the can or jar, making sure the feet go all the way to the counter, you will need them to touch the grill for stability. You should have a sort of tripod of can and chicken feet. Now heat your grill - oh another thing to make sure of is that the lid of your grill is tall enough to fit over the chicken. Okay, heat your grill. You want indirect heat and a low fire. The chicken should cook at 300-325 degrees for 2 to 3 hours. A gas grill makes this easy, otherwise, you will need a low fire at the edge of your grill and the ability to add coals every now and then as necessary. (This whole thing can always be done in the oven, but that's not nearly as exciting.) Put a little drip pan under the chicken and carefully place on the grill. Cover and let her cook for 2 or 3 hours, until a thermometer registers 170 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. When she is done, don some heavy rubber gloves and take her off with your hands. Any other way is too risky. Let the chicken cool about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the jar from the cavity. It will be hot, so have the appropriate gloves ready. I like to dump the liquid into a small pan and reduce it a little to use as a sauce. Carve your chicken how you like it, pour a little of the juice over it and dig in!
We were celebrating our youngest daughter's graduation from high school at one of our favorite haunts when it occured to us that we have have never shared it with you; Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen. I know what some of you are saying, famous chef, lots of press, it has been there six years, take us somewhere new. Well, it is truly one of our favorite restaurants, and proprietor Cindy Pawlcyn is a wonderful chef who makes sure that Cindy's reinvents itself all the time by changing up the menu, freshening old favorites and running a good selection of specials everyday. Even if you haven't yet eaten at her namesake restaurant you may have eaten at Mustards Grill or Go Fish (both of which she owns) or perhaps you've eaten at one of the half dozen or more restaurants in Northern California where she designed the original menu. The mark of a Cindy Pawlcyn restaurant, like Cindy's, is simply delicious food full of flavor She quite often adds a little latin or asian influence to great comfort food. It is too difficult to pick one or two dishes to highlight - they are all good. You really can't go wrong with a thing. (They also have great bartenders - Mojitos and Thai-tinis are favorites of ours - you can't drink wine all the time!) So give it a try if you haven't already, you will not be disappointed. www.cindysbackstreetkitchen.com