Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Big Green Egg Beer Can Chicken

This recipe doesn't come from a cookbook but at some point I needed to introduce the Big Green Egg to the blog.  For those of you not in the know about the Big Green Egg, it is a ceramic cooker modeled after an ancient Japanese oven called the kamado.  It burns hardwood charcoal and is capable of reaching a wide range of temperatures.  You can do everything from smoking a pork shoulder at 250 for 18 hours to cranking it up to 600 for a nice sear on a steak.

Here I did the classic beer can chicken.  A small roasting chicken seasoned with a beer can shoved right up it's rear end.  The moisture coming form the can keeps the inside moist and full of flavor while the burning charcoal gives the bird a slight smoky flavor.
The Big Green Egg.

The bottom air vent of the Big Green Egg
Since I haven't posted about the Big Green Egg, from here on out referred to as the BGE, I will do a brief introduction for those that aren't familiar with it.  The BGE is all about airflow;  you control the temp by regulating the amount of air allowed in through the bottom vent and adjusting the amount of air allowed to escape out the top.  It's a very simple design without any moving parts to break or replace, the more air that passes through your fire, the hotter it will be. This is cooking in it's purest form, over a hot wood fire.

Lump charcoal being lit.
The first step toward doing anything on the egg is getting it lit.  You load the bowl with some lump charcoal and some fire starters.  You open up the bottom vent all the way, leave the lid open and light your starters.  Now it's time to hurry up and wait; no worries--what the egg lacks in speed it more than makes up for in flavor.  It should take roughly 30 minutes for most of the hardwood to light up at which point it is time to adjust the air to reach your desired temp.  In the case of this chicken I am shooting for something between 275 and 300 degrees, the lower and slower I cook the more smoke flavor the bird will take on.  I could certainly roast the bird at the standard 375 and it would cook faster but with much less smoke flavor in the meat. 

Place setter placed inside egg

Once we have our temp regulated we need to place our heat reflector into the egg.  This is basically a big porcelain shield that is used when you want cook over indirect heat.  If we were doing steaks or burgers this wouldn't be needed, but in order to roast something we need to shield the bird from some of that direct heat.  The BGE "place setter" just slips into the bowl of the egg and rests on it's interior edge.

The grill grate rests on top of the place setter and from there we are ready to get to the chicken.  Now you can be prepping and seasoning that bird as your charcoal lights, so that by the time it is up to temp the bird will be ready to go on.  I removed the giblets, seasoned the bird with some salt/pepper, stuffed the cavity with some lemon wedges and fresh herbs and of course the requisite beer can.  I also peel back the skin and season underneath the skin as well, that way it's not just the skin getting the good stuff.  I then slid the bird onto the stand which makes it stand upright for roasting.

From there it is simply a matter of sliding the bird onto the egg and keeping a eye on the internal temp.  A bird of this size, roasted at the temps I use will take between 1.5 and 2 hours.  If you use temps closer to the 375-400 neck of the woods it's probably closer to an hour.  Either way, you are shooting for an internal breast temperature of 160, anything over that and you will have dry breasts and nobody likes dry chicken trust me.

The Big Green Egg is a very versatile tool for the home cook.  Sure it takes a little longer to do things, but the results obtained from this high moisture heat is something that can't be duplicated in an oven or with a propane gas grill.  I have done everything from ribs to pizza on my egg, and I sure you will be seeing more from it in the future.


  1. Greeting ready to start mine, let everyone know the results.

  2. The Big Green Egg is a very versatile tool for the home cook. Sure it takes a little longer to do things.Its really taste of this chicken.