Beer Butt Vs Spatchcock – Battle of the BBQ Chickens
June 28, 2010 12 Comments
It is time again that I make Beer Can Chicken aka Beer Butt Chicken, I have made Beer Butt at least 5 or 6 times in the last couple of years and we have never had a bad bird done that way.
Of late a lot of the meals that I have cooked on the BBQ have been the types that are well for the lack of a better term, Un-Heart healthy, Ribs, Bacon Bombs, MOINKS etc., all very tasty to be sure but not something to eat every day.
I had two plump chickens in my freezer ready to bend over for some beer but alas I forgot to take them out the night before to Thaw, so off to the grocery store (No Frills) to buy a couple that were on sale this week for under $7.00 each.
I also noticed that I was all out of canned Beer, (nothing like being well prepared eh folks?)
So over to my local Beer Store to pick up a 15 pack of Bud.
Both birds would get their skins poked with a few tiny holes which will allow the skin to be a little more crispy and both received the intrusive treatment of sliding my fingers under the skin in order to get some dressing and spices under the skin.
For the dressing I use oil based salad dressing and today I decided on Kraft’s Roasted Red Pepper with Parmesan but first I take some salt, pepper and garlic powder that I pre-mixed and poured it into my hand and get in under the skin and spread it around, try to get in under the skin everywhere you can even the thighs.
Next I coat the birds inside and out with the salad dressing.
This is where the birds got a bit of personality though, Bird #1 (which because of its personalty we will call her “Frank” ) got a healthy dose of the rub that I bought from the Thirsty Cactus BBQ team at the Toronto Beach Rib-Fest last week-end.
Bird #2, lets call her “Emma” she got some Old Bay Seasoning all over her body.
Following their rubdowns Frank and Emma were slid into locking plastic bags and placed in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the dressing and spices mingle.
It was at this point I also remembered that I had run out of propane the night before do another trip out in the car last-minute, If I had stayed in Boy Scouts longer as a child maybe I would of been better prepared!
While marinating I went on Twitter to chat it up with a few of the #BBQclique and I mentioned that I was making Bee Can Chicken (yes it was a typo but I think everyone understood what i meant) all of a sudden @SpiritBBQ mentioned to me that Beer Can Chicken is a waste of good Beer and even directed me to a website that talks about the Myth of Beer Can Chicken
Now many people are believers in the Beer Can method, including myself as I also tried it with Cola, Ginger-ale and water, and my family all concur that the Beer based has the best taste and the Chicken is very juicy as well.
After reading the article from @TheNakedWhiz
website, I was sent yet another page from @SpiritBBQ from his same friend suggesting that Spatchcock method is better than Beer can.
At first I thought well that is all fine and dandy but I have already started and had my mind set on two beer can chickens so I said, thanks but I will have to try that another day.
Then I thought hold on now, maybe I can make one of the birds in the Spatchcock method and be able to compare the methods side by side in a fair battle of the methods.
So on Emma I used the Spatchcock method which is to simply cut on both sides of the birds backbone, remove it and then flatten or kind of butterfly the chicken.
Frank was going to stay whole and sit on the Beer.
As you see in the picture above I have a stainless steel stand to pour the beer into and have the chicken impale itself onto, you can also sit the bird right over the Beer can directly, but if you do it that way it is best to make a few extra holes in the top of the can so that the moister / steam can rise out of it at a better rate, I have used an instant read thermometer point to make the holes in the past.
Before putting the beer in the tube I also added more of the rub that I used on Frank earlier into the tube first for some extra flavour.
after the birds have been cooking for 30 minutes I apply a garlic butter and soya sauce basting sauce every half hour as the skin starts to crisp-en.
At 8 pm I use my instant read thermometer to check the birds progress and they had only reached 135F you want to get at least 160F in the breasts and close to 180F in the thighs. it had been raining for a while and the rain hitting the lid of the BBQ had reduced the temps so I boosted up the flames (ordinarily I would have the left burner on low and the right side off, with the birds cooking indirect).
I put the corn on the grill (open the husks and clean removing the hair, brush melted butter on and cover again with the husks) hoping that the corn would be done at the same time as the chicken, but they finished much earlier, As you can see here the weather conditions were not perfect for doing BBQ
Looking at the temps of both Emma and Frank I was finding that Frank (the Beer butt Bird) was cooking faster than Emma so I decided to switch them around on the grill to try to achieve some even cooking, it was only after taking the next picture and seeing it on my computer (was wanting to post a couple of shots on twitter) That I had a ROFLMAO moment. I did not place the birds in this position on purpose but they Frank sure did appear to be enjoying herself while Emma assumed the position!
Instead of having two Dancing Chickens for dinner I had two Chickens Dirty Dancing
The Beer Butt Chicken Frank was ready to come off the grill almost an hour before Emma, which seemed strange to me since Emma was split and had more surface area to cook you would think faster, but maybe because Frank was standing up and had more air around her the meat could cook faster in the indirect method.
So Frank came off the grill to be wrapped in foil and rest. As for Emma I slid her over to the direct side of the grill for 5 minutes and then back to the indirect side for another 45 minutes or so.
Both Birds were delicious both were juicy, Emma her legs were wanting to fall away from her body, and took very little effort to pull them off, Franks pork style rub added some nice flavour as well.
Considering that the rain extended the cooking time to over 3 hours I think that cooking both bird styles together at once was a fair test.
Do I have a preference now?…. no, both styles work just fine, but I will continue to do the Beer Butt but I will use the spatchcock method again as well.
A big shout out to @SpiritBBQ and @TheNakedWhiz
for their tips and making this blog post a little more interesting than just doing the Beer Can chickens recipe!