Don't chicken out over this summertime favorite

August 1, 2005

Is your life getting a little routine, having spent several full days in the office, a day in the OR, with piles of paperwork to complete and taxes to pay?

Is your life getting a little routine, having spent several full days in the office, a day in the OR, with piles of paperwork to complete and taxes to pay?

Do people fail to perceive you as the vibrant, funny, charismatic, and even brilliant person you know yourself to be?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you are in trouble. I have three words for you: beer can chicken.

It's summertime, and that means cooking on the grill. By securing the necessary raw materials specified and following my instructions, you will be a hero, and to quote Pedro in the 2004 movie "Napoleon Dynamite," all of your wildest dreams will come true.

This weekend, stop at your neighborhood shopping center and obtain:
1. Hammock
2. Grill (gas or charcoal)
3. Latest Tom Clancy novel
4. 4- to 4.5-pound chicken
5. Six-pack of beer (cans, not bottles)
6. Meat thermometer (about $5)
7. Chicken rub (in spices/barbecue sauce section)
8. Bag of prewashed salad

If you purchase a regular chicken (as opposed to organic), remember that the Los Angeles Times reports that 80% of these chickens have quinolone-resistant Campylobacter bacteria, so wash your hands. Quinolones are routinely used in the drinking water on poultry farms to reduce pulmonary infections.

Such a large amount of antibiotics is used in the animal husbandry industry that the amount used in human patients is small by comparison, and eye drops should be considered, in my opinion, a "drop" in the bucket, and insignificant when it comes to the issue of encouraging resistance.

In the European Union (EU), they had the same problem. One of my friends who is an EU ophthalmologist tells me that the EU banned quinolone use in the poultry industry a few years ago, and ocular infections from quinolone-resistant bacteria are now rare.

But I digress.

Wash the chicken, remove the giblets, dry it with a paper towel, rub it with canola oil and sprinkle it with chicken rub. Open the can of beer, drink about one-third of it, add a spoonful of chicken rub to the beer, and place the chicken on the open can so that the can is mostly within the cavity and the bird is supported by the can and the two legs.

Place chicken and can on the grill (indirect heat, about 350° F). Open the next can of beer, retire to the hammock with your novel, and read for about 1.5 hours.

Return to the grill, insert thermometer to confirm that temperature is about 165° F (see aforementioned note about Campylobacter bacteria), and yell "dinner's ready!" Remove can before eating.

The result of this exercise is a perfect dinner entrée: a gorgeous chicken with crispy skin and delicious, moist meat. The latter is the result of the steaming, chicken rub-spiked beer. Particularly if you are not known as a chef, your dinner guests will be amazed. Accept the inevitable praise with grace. Testing on my grill confirms a 100% success rate.