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Season 3

Show 304: Louisiana and the Gulf Coast

This week's episode celebrates grilling Bayou-style, with three New Orleans-inspired segments. The first is Steven's update of that Gulf Coast specialty shrimp 'n' smokies, grill-blackened catfish - a Cajun classic - with a side of fennel follows and this season's twist beer can chicken - Cajun roastin' chicken on a beer can - wraps it all up.

Ragin' Cajun Beer Can Chicken
printer-ready version

Method: Indirect grilling

Serves 2 to 4

For the beer can chicken:

  • 1 can (12 ounces) beer
  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
For the rub:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
You'll need: 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or cherry), soaked for 1 hour in water or beer to cover, then drained; vertical chicken roaster (optional)

1. Pop the tab off the beer can. Using a church key-style can opener, make 2 or 3 additional holes in the top of the can. Pour the Liquid Smoke into one of these holes. Insert a chopstick or skewer and gently stir to mix the Liquid Smoke and beer.

2. Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use. Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Place the chicken in a large bowl on its side and pour half the smoke-flavored beer over it. Let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 45 minutes, turning twice. Make sure each breast side and the back have marinated for 15 minutes. Set the can with the remaining smoke-flavored beer aside

3. Make the rub: Put the Cajun and Old Bay seasonings in a small bowl and stir to mix.

4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling (see page 000 for charcoal or page 000 for gas) and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch (see page 000) and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the rub inside the body and cavity and 1 teaspoon inside the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle the oil over the outside of the bird and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tablespoon rub and rub it all over the skin.

6. Spoon the remaining rub through a hole in the top of the can into the beer. Don't worry if it foams up; this is normal. If grilling the chicken on the beer can, hold the chicken upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom and lower the bird onto the beer can so the can fits into the cavity. If using a vertical chicken roaster, fill it with the beer as described on page 000 and position the chicken on top.

7. If using the beer can, pull the chicken legs forward to form a sort of tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear leg of the tripod is the beer can. You don't need to do this if using a vertical chicken roaster. Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken's back.

8. When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss all the wood chips on the coals. Stand the chicken up in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan, away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through (about 180 F on an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in a thigh), 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. (See page 000 for other tests for doneness.) If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. If the chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.

9. Using tongs, grab the bird with tongs by the beer can just below the bottom, carefully transfer it in its upright position to a platter, and present it to your guests. If using a vertical chicken roaster, grab it with oven mitts or pot holders. Let rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift the chicken off the support. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Normally I discard the beer, but some people like to save it for making barbecue sauce. Halve, quarter, or carve the chicken and serve.


After half a million miles on the barbecue trail, America's "Grilling Guru" celebrates our pit masters and pit stops, backyards and back roads in BBQ USA. From Lone Star Brisket to Maryland Grilled Soft Shell Crabs to Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken, Steven Raichlen offers 425 fiery and fabulous recipes covering all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

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