Monday, April 23, 2012

Orange Ginger Beer Can Chicken on the Smoker


Beer can chicken is one of the delights of grilling and smoking season in my opinion.  No fussing.  Set it on the grill or the smoker and let 'er rip, a couple of hours later....golden, tender, juicy, flavorful, succulent chicken awaits.  It couldn't be easier.  And isn't he cute as the dickens?! 

Okay.  I lied about that "no fussing" bit above.  Yeah, there's a bit of prep involved....clean the chicken, make the paste and the baste, give it a little spicy paste massage...but once you get it on the smoker?  Sit back, relax, enjoy a beer or 2 or smokes for a long time! The prep time is worth it!

We've done a lot of variations over the years, but never an Asian version - well, we have now!  This little beauty may be the best of our efforts to date!  I just wish there were some way to send the spicy orange scent of this chicken your way!  Smoky sweet orange, salty tamari, zingy, zippy ginger and garlic in the marinade that we've emphasized with a glaze of the same flavors....sweetened and thickened with orange marmalade!  Mmmmmmm........ 

What am I serving alongside this little cutie?  Cold sesame noodles and simple buttered snow peas.  Look for the noodle recipe next!

Orange Ginger Beer Can Chicken on the Smoker

  • 1 roasting chicken, a nice big one!

  • 1 orange, zested and juiced (reserve juice)
  • ginger root, 2" piece, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey, dark honey if you can find it
  • 1 teaspoon Penzey's Bankok Blend spice*
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, wheat-free to make this gluten-free or soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1 tablespoon sake (or white wine)


  • orange juice (reserved from the orange above)
  • 1/4 cup sake (or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (see note about tamari above)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger

  • 1 can ginger ale

Rinse whole chicken, remove giblets and all the stuff inside (I throw it out, if you use it for something, go ahead!), remove all the fat around the neck.  Pat dry.

Combine the rub ingredients: zest, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, honey, spice, tamari and sake. Mix well into a paste; set 1 T. aside.  

Run your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the chicken breast and distribute 1/4 of the paste completely over that side of the breast.  Repeat on the other side of the breast with another 1/4 of the paste. Massage the paste all around from the outside, working the paste into all areas. 

Paste rubbed between breast and skin.

Make a small slit at the top of one leg (see pic) just about 1" long.  Insert one finger and separate the skin from the leg - do this gently.  Using the same slit, run your finger between the skin and the thigh, loosening skin completely.  Using your finger, work 1/4 of the remaining paste between the skin and leg, then another 1/4 between the skin and thigh.  Repeat on other leg and thigh.  Massage the paste all around from the outside, working the paste into all areas.  

Cutting slit at leg to insert paste.

Now let the chicken chill out in the fridge for about 4 hours.

For the baste, combine the orange juice, sake, marmalade, tamari, granulated garlic, sesame oil and ginger.  Mix well, set aside.

When you're ready to start cooking, prepare smoker as you normally would - we used applewood for this.  While the smoker is getting to temp, pour out all but 1/2 of the gingerale - drink it if you want or save it for something else - and gently work the butt of the chicken over the can.  Bend the wing tips back and tuck them under to keep them from burning.

Once the smoker is up to temp (225-250 degrees) put the chicken on the smoker and move his little legs forward to balance him upright - like he's standing up and dancing!  We used to do it this way, but bought ourselves a beer can chicken holder.  It's just sturdy wire with a base that the can is inserted into - holds the can and the chicken steady! Without the holder we did just fine for years, so if you don't want to make the investment, it isn't necessary. 

Cover the smoker and let the chicken go for about an hour.  Remove the lid and baste the chicken with the sauce.  Do this about 3 times over the course of the smoking. 

The time to smoke will vary with everyone - the type of smoker you use, the size of the chicken, how hot you're all depends.  Use a meat thermometer to be accurate about when the chicken is done.  An internal temperature of 180 degrees is what you're looking for - the leg should move easily and loosely in the joint.


NOTE:  If you don't have Bankok Blend, use pinches of ancho chile, lemon pepper seasoning, red pepper flakes, basil and cilantro - all dried and mix well and there you have it!

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