Capons are the poultry of choice at our cottage. These castrated roosters develop into large, tender, and flavourful birds. Brining adds moisture and more flavour to the meat, but is an optional step if you don’t have time or a large stockpot.
Because the chicken needs ample headroom to roast vertically, the best cooking option is often a kettle-style charcoal grill. Even then, you’ll have to remove the top grate. As a rough estimate, the bird will need about 17-20 minutes per lb (35-45 minutes per kg); however, rely on a meat thermometer, not your watch, since the barbecue temperature is difficult to keep constant.
- Serves: 6-8
- Course: Dinner
- 1 (6-7 lb) whole capon or roasting chicken (3–3.5 kg)
- 1 large (tall boy) can pale lager or pilsner (about 500 ml)
- 7 cups (1.75 L) water
- 1 cup (250 ml) kosher salt
- 1 cup (250 ml) brown sugar
- 1 orange, peel on, sliced
- 1 lemon, peel on, sliced
- ½ cup (12 peeled and roughly sliced ginger
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups (1 L) pale lager or pilsner
- 6 tbsp (90 ml) pale lager or pilsner
- 6 tbsp (90 ml) paprika
- 1½ tbsp (22 ml) brown sugar
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) kosher salt
- If you’re not brining chicken, skip to Step 4. In a large stockpot, bring water to a simmer over high heat. Add salt and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, mixing well. Allow brine to cool.
- Immerse chicken in stockpot, adding water, if needed, to cover. Cover pot and refrigerate for about an hour per lb (1 hour per 500 g).
- Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold water. Pat dry and allow to air-dry on the counter for a few minutes.
- Mix rub ingredients in a small bowl. Rub over chicken and inside the cavity.
- Prepare grill for indirect cooking: Bank coals on one side and light.
- Open tall can of beer and pour ½ cup (125 ml) into a 9" (23 cm) square cake pan. With a can opener, punch two more holes into top of can. Place in centre of pan and carefully slide bird, tail down, onto can until it rests on its drumsticks.
- Position pan on the cool side of barbecue (throwing some soaked apple-wood chips, if you like, onto the hot coals), close lid, and open vents. Every 30 minutes or so, rotate pan halfway to avoid burning and add charcoal, if needed. Cook until thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 175°F (80°C).
- Carefully, holding the chicken with a clean tea towel, and with a helper holding the can with long tongs, lift the bird off the can (better to spill some hot liquid in the barbecue than on your legs). Place on a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- - Line pan with foil for easy cleanup. z You can use your gas barbecue if it’s tall enough, cooking the chicken with indirect heat. Smaller chickens can be cooked with this recipe (using a regular-sized can of beer) in your barbecue or on the lower rack of a 375°F (190°C) oven.
- - If your barbecue isn’t tall enough to fit a standing chicken, grill it over indirect heat, on its back, without the beer can.
- - Make extra rub and store in an airtight container to use on grilled chicken or pork; although mixture will keep longer, it’s best used within a month or so.