Your typical ‘beer can chicken’ recipe says a grill is needed and a can of beer must be opened, half-drank, and placed inside. After the half drank beer has been placed inside a whole chicken the can acts a third leg to place up right on the grill. Then, cook the chicken slowly on the grill so the beer evaporates into the body cavity, making the chicken extremely moist. I chose this recipe to see if could get the same results without have to balance a whole chicken on a beer can and two legs. Never mind that I did not have access to a grill only an oven. The overall purpose was to see if I could take an entire recipe completely change it to my accommodations and still get the same results without having a huge disaster.

It began with a four pound whole chicken that was destined to be cooked for dinner, but the question was how. Since, I had already consumed a few glasses of wine I assume that is where idea for an alcoholic chicken came to be.  So, the research began, but all the recipes called for a grill to cook the chicken upright with a beer placed up the body cavity. An upright chicken in the oven was not going to happen in my uncle’s small oven and no proper pan to place it on that would allow the chicken to stay upright. To compensate I placed the four pound whole chicken in a deep dish pan on its back. This pan would fit in the oven just fine after some rearrangement.  I warmed the oven to 420 degrees F and brought a pan of water to a boil to start the stuffing. While waiting for the stuffing to cook I began seasoning the bird by rubbing salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning inside, and out. Then, sliced one inch wide slits in the chicken’s breast, about four or five on each side and stuffed each slit with a chunk of butter. A few minutes after seasoning the stuffing was finished. One big mistake I learned – let the stuffing cool down first before your stuff it into the chicken. I almost scorched my hands trying to stuff the chicken while it was still hot. Anyway, when stuffing the chicken I first poured beer in the cavity then placed a small amount of stuffing inside and repeated. This way it became like a layering process. Once the body cavity was full I gathered the skin to close the cavity and weaved a shish kabob stick through to seal up the body cavity. Finally, poured the remaining beer in the pan for the chicken to cook in. Right now you may be thinking, how many beers did she use? Well, it’s hard to believe but there was only one beer used to one four pound chicken. More beer is always welcome to the process as they say the more beer the merrier and the moister your chicken will be. Place, the chicken in the oven at 420 degrees F for about thirty minutes. After thirty minutes lower the heat to 375 degrees F and leave in the oven four about fifty to sixty minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven and let cool for about five to ten minutes and well la! The delicious beer can chicken with a twist is ready to eat.

Beer was the key ingredient in this recipe. You can cook a chicken a million different ways, but beer is what really makes the difference this time around. Beer is most known for its tenderizing properties. When cooking with beer, be careful of the type of beer that is used. IPA’s are typically a light bitter beer. So, if an IPA is cooked with a dish a bitter taste will be left in the dish. Also, never cook with a beer that you wouldn’t drink; it will end up tasting like that beer. Beer is used in many recipes everything from fried foods to soups and sauces. Beer seems to be more versatile than wine when it comes to cooking because of its many different textures and flavor varieties. So, when cooking with beer it is important to choose the beer that is right for the recipe. The exact history of how beer was invented is unknown, but cooking with beer has been done for centuries. Beer is typically given a bad name when it comes to health, but in moderation just like most things beer is healthy for you. A glass of beer is known to have fewer calories than a glass of milk or apple juice.  It also raises levels of HDL, which is good cholesterol, in your blood. Beer also contains vitamins and minerals benefiting the nervous system as well as increasing blood circulation and stimulating metabolism. When cooking with alcohol there is a myth that the alcohol evaporates when added to a dish. This is not necessarily true; in order to fully cook the alcohol out of a dish it needs to be cooked for about three hours for all traces of the alcohol to evaporate. This also depends on the potency of alcohol and the temperature that the dish is cooked at. So, be aware more times than none alcohol that is added to a dish will still remain in the dish unless cooked properly.

One chemical reaction that occurs when cooking is color change. This occurs with most dishes cooked especially meat. Before I put my beer chicken in the oven the color of the meat was pink. After ninety minutes of cooking in the oven the meat had turned white. There are many chemical reactions when cooking a chicken or just about anything for that matter. When cooking the gases in an oven react with the hemoglobin in the meat tissue leaving a pink tint. Through this chemical reaction you can determine if the chicken was young or old when slaughtered. When the meat of a chicken around the bone and the bone itself is still pink after the chicken has fully cooked until a temperature of 165 degrees F this is evidence of a young chicken. This is because the skin of a younger bird is thinner and can be penetrated by oven gases more easily. Older birds usually have a layer of fat underneath their skin giving protection from oven gases. The intense coloring or ‘browning’ of meat is also linked to its flavor; this chemical reaction is a known as the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction happens when amino acids and sugar are heated to high temperatures such as three-hundred and five-hundred degrees F to combine and form new flavors and smell. In my beer chicken the Maillard reaction was caused by the sugars and amino acids in the beer, butter, and chicken. All the ingredients chemically reacted to give the chicken a moist delicious aroma and taste.

My beer can chicken with a twist ended up being very successful. The chicken was unbelievably moist and the stuffing was out of the world. So next time you run into a cooking dilemma never be afraid to switch it up to meet your own accommodations. If Julia Child broke some of the rules you should too. Who knows you could whip up something fantastic for your family or significant other. Through my research with beer and chemical reactions of cooking I learned you don’t need to be an expert you just need a little courage to tackle the kitchen and what may lay within.

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