Harissa Beer Can Chicken By: Beer Bitty
Beer can chicken is the quintessential cooking with beer recipe, particularly during grilling season. It seems everyone has their own variation these days. That’s why this recipe is mostly about the rub.
Harissa is a North African hot chili sauce. It’ll vary a bit pending family and region, but the base of the sauce is the same: chiles, garlic, spices and oil. This version also contains a roasted red pepper for a fresh, somewhat sweet pepper flavor, cumin & coriander to play with the earthiness, smoked beer to pair with the bbq chicken, and a touch of honey to counter any potential bitterness. While harissa typically takes the form of a paste, I loosen it up a bit with beer so that it’ll serve as a rub and a sauce.
The beer will steam the chicken from the inside while the dry heat and rub crisp the skin on the outside. The result is a perfectly cooked, flavor packed, tender chicken unlike any other. You may want to make an extra bird... This is one of those dishes that goes fast. In the off chance that you do have leftovers, pile the chicken onto a fresh loaf of bread and use the remaining harissa as a sandwich spread.
- 1 large red bell pepper, roasted
I throw mine on the grill until blistered and black, then place in a brown paper bag for ~15 minutes. The steam will make it easier to remove the charred skin.
- 5 large, dried mild chiles such as California, Guajillo, or Ancho
- 4 cloves garlic
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup smoke beer
I used De Molen Rook & Vuur, but any smoke beer will do the trick.
- 2 tbs. red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 tbs. honey
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
- 1 to 2 tsp. red chile powder (optional)
Beer Can Chicken
- 1 4-lbs whole chicken
- 1 can of your favorite microbrew, half full and at room temperature
Don’t cook with it if you wouldn’t drink it. For this recipe, I used a Monkey Paw Oatmeal Pale Ale because that’s what’s in a can and in my fridge. Typically I use Mama’s LIttle Yella Pils as it’s widely available and the 12 ounce can is safer than a 16 ounce one.
- Salt and Pepper
- Toast the chiles in a dry pan over medium heat until they become fragrant and begin to puff up a bit.
- Chop off the top stem and discard with any seeds.
- Place in a small, shallow bowl and cover with boiling water; allow to soak for ~15 minutes until pliable. Drain chiles then roughly chop.
- Combine the chiles, chopped bell pepper, and remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.
- Blend until the mixture forms a smooth, slightly thick sauce. Taste. If needed, add additional honey, spices, salt, or vinegar.
- Tightly sealed, the sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks (it makes a fantastic sandwich spread, particularly with steak).
Beer Can Chicken
- Prepare the grill - keep in mind that the chicken will need to cook over medium high, indirect heat which essentially means no coal or burners should be on beneath the bird.
- Remove the neck and/or gizzards (if any) from the cavity of the chicken. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place in a rimmed baking dish and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Pour about ½ cup harissa over the chicken.
- Using clean hands, spread the harissa over entire surface of chicken. For a crispier skin, try rubbing some between the skin and meat, being careful not to tear the skin.
- Place the open, half full can of beer on a flat, transportable surface. The chicken then goes directly onto the beer can - beer in the rear style (well, technically in the cavity)..
- Contort the wings so that are snugly positioned behind the chicken’s back. The legs, meanwhile, should act as a tripod.
- Adjust the grill so that the chicken is placed on the cooler side. Ideally, the chicken should be cooked by indirect heat with the breast meat facing away the charcoal/burners to prevent it from drying out.
- Close the grill lid and leave alone for no less than 1 hour. That means no peeking.
- After the first hour has passed, check on the bird and, if needed, adjust the heat.
- Continue cooking until a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reads no less than 165F. Typically, it takes an additional 30 minutes for a 4-pound chicken to reach the proper doneness on the grill.
- Carefully transfer the chicken to a tray and remove the can of beer - it will be hot! Allow to rest for no less than 10 minutes.
- Carve and serve with the remaining harissa (and a beer, of course).