Friday, August 12, 2011

Living Seasonally

One thing that the Midwest has going for it is four distinct seasons. Sure, Spring may only be a two week span between a snow storm that cancels a Cubs game in late May and a heat wave that happens in June, but it's still there. In the last 48 hours, the sweltering heat that signifies High Summer broke, and we're back into the lazy summer days where you can actually stay outside for more than 5 minutes without burning or dying of heat exhaustion.

The transition has now happened in the garden. Cool-weather loving seeds are back replacing the summer herbs. Fall lettuce, parsnips, radishes, beans, and peas are all in the ground. It may be 80 out, but one can tell that autumn is around the corner.

There are still a couple of weeks left to enjoy a New Belgium Sommersault Ale and indulge in my all-time favorite chicken recipe, the Beer Can Chicken. I've mentioned my pampered local free-range chickens before. So, grab your Weber Grill, some real lump charcoal, and be prepared to give that pampered bird the treatment it deserves.

Step 1: Yes, it has to be a Weber Charcoal Grill. Ed over at Gin & Tacos really explains why, but it boils down to the fact that it is simply the best grill out there. Plus, made in Palatine, Illinois. Support Midwestern manufacturing!

Step 2: Grab a charcoal chimney. Fill the top part with charcoal that closest resembles actual lumps of wood. Add newspaper to the bottom, light, wait. About 10 minutes. Really. Wait.

Step 3: Set up your coals - you want to add them around the edge of the kettle. Under the middle, place an aluminum pie pan or piece of foil to catch the drippings of the bird. It will keep your grill clean, and will create extra steam and smoke to the interior of the Weber.

Step 4: The Bird. Grab a 12 ounce can of beer. It does not have to be good beer. Drink about 4 to 6 ounces. Spray the beer can with Pam (or brush with olive oil). Shove the beer can up the bird's cavity so that it sits upright on the can. Season the bird with a dry rub of your favorite spices (Bacon Salt is good, Lawry's, McCormick's Montreal Steak, or Cavendar's Greek Seasoning also work).

Step 5: Making sure that you have a good ring of charcoal, place the bird on the upper rack, directly over the pie pan/foil that's on the lower rack with the coals. Place the lid on CAREFULLY. If your bird is over 5 pounds, the lid may rest on the bird (clean the lid first). Wait 75 minutes. Bird will be awesome.

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