Thought I'd relieve some turkey day stress by posting about my recent kitchen experiment...root beer can chicken. I couldn't bring myself to buy one can of Heinekin or Bud, but I do love root beer so figured why not? The comic relief is really in those photos linked below. I had a fun photo shoot at the bird's expense...
To be honest, I used to think that I was above using this "gimmicky" cooking technique, so I never even considered it til Kate mentioned her method here: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
I always associated this chicken w/ frat boys or tail gaters, neither of which really applies to me. But carb lover can't live on Zuni chicken alone, so I was ready to try something different. To be clear, I didn't do this on the grill but in my oven.
What I basically did: Pre-seasoned the chicken the night before w/ salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, oregano, cumin, and garlic powder. Before roasting, opened up the A&W root beer, drank a bit (aah good), poked a few holes at the top, and plopped the chicken on top. Forgot to drop some seasonings in the can first, but oh well. Roasted at 350F w/ some potato wedges til juices ran clear, about 70 min. for my 4-pounder. Tossed potatoes w/ some greens and mustard dressing and served alongside chicken.
So what did I think? Unfortunately, I wasn't sold on this one. The cooking part was super easy and I liked how all parts of the bird were evenly exposed to heat, but the texture was VERY ODD. The steaming from inside made the breast meat particularly rubbery and flabby. Some parts were kind of dense while other parts were mealy. Kind of inedible for me since odd texture can really turn me off. Wasn't overcooked since the dark meat was just done.
The dark meat tasted fine since it was less directly exposed to the steam, but it wasn't particularly addictive like other chickens I've made. I didn't taste a distinct root beer flavor, but it may have added a little sweetness. The rub and overnight seasoning made for a robust-flavored exterior, but it was compromised b/c the skin went from semi-crisp to flacid once the chicken deflated while cooling. (It was strangely bloated from the steaming.) I didn't eat much of the skin since it wasn't crispy.
Husband, who is my ultimate taster, was pretty disappointed evidenced by the fact that he ate very modestly and slowly that night. Oh well, now I can say that I worked past my snobbery enough to give it a go, but I think I'm happy to leave this to the frat boys, tail gaters, Kate, and you hounds who are better at this than me. I had fun making it, and we ended the evening on a funny note when we kept on daring each other to drink the remains in the can...neither of us was brave enough to do it.
Two things that may have doomed this from the start: subbing in root beer for beer and oven roasting instead of grilling. Note that hardly any of the root beer evaporated. I'd love to hear any thoughts from those who've tried this before. Happy Thanksgiving all!