I have a secret to share: Cooking a whole chicken is easy.
There, I’ve said it. It’s out there and millions of cooks and chefs will probably never forgive me, but I can’t resist spreading the news. Guess what else? It’s cheap. Now I’m really in for it.
I’ve always been daunted by cooking anything whole. How do you know it’s done? What do you do with the gross stuff on the inside? What if I cook the whole thing and then realize that KFC’s version really is better?
I put my worries on hold, rolled up my sleeves, and got started. First, I bought a $6 “young chicken” from my grocery store, then loosely followed the recipe for Oven Barbecue Beer-Can Chicken. (I used to also be afraid of following directions “loosely,” as I was much more a “How much is a ‘scoop,’ Grandma?” girl, but I’m getting used to the improvising and, you know what, it really is better because recipes fit my taste. Which is good, because I do most of the eating.)
First, open a can of beer and, um, somehow use about half of it, then set it in a pan with with a decent rim–in my case, a brownie pan. The first thing you do with the chicken is rinse it under cold water, then remove the neat little baggy of innards from the chicken’s body. Discard ASAP unless you’re into making homemade stock. In which case, we might not be friends anymore.
Next, make your rub. If you’re following the recipe above, good for you! My rub was a mix of fresh rosemary, cayenne, chili powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, and garlic powder. Run your fingers underneath the skin of the chicken and rub the spices into the chicken. If you have any rub leftover, dump it into the beer can, then set the chicken on the beer can (upright) and stuff with a little rosemary to show off…oh ok, and add a little flavor to boot.
Cook the bird for about 45 minutes, then hike up the heat and cook about 30 minutes more to get the skin nice and crispy. The best part about this recipe is that it requires about 10 minutes of prep work, then you’re free to make sides, clean up, or enjoy a glass of wine and catch a few segments of reality TV. I’ll let you guess which option I picked.
When the bird is done, you’ve got fall-off-the-bone tender meat that works as a main dish or as an ingredient on pizzas, in sandwiches, or even in pasta tosses. All for $6! So far my chicken has taken care of three hearty servings, and I’ve still got about half of it left.
Trust me, this might just be the easiest, and most impressive, meal you’ll ever make. The hardest part was carving it, so check out our How-To Video for easy tips and tricks and see our collection of Chicken Recipes for more ideas.